A Different Drummer By William Melvin Kelley Character Analysis Dymphna Willson

When we first meet Dymphna, she is trying to make some sense of the events of the past two days. In doing so, she searches for memories of Bethrah, the only black she has known really well. Unlike Dewey, Dymphna knows quite a lot about the black person whom she has called "friend." Years ago, when Dymphna met Bethrah, she did hold some stereotyped attitudes about black women, but she managed to overcome many of them and to work out at least a restricted kind of friendship. Her exposure to Bethrah has made her aware of some of the problems facing blacks in a white society, and Dymphna even tried to eliminate one of them. She didn't wish to consign Bethrah to her "place" by requiring Bethrah to address her as "Miss Dymphna." Because of her experience with Bethrah, Dymphna has a bit of understanding as to why Tucker left Sutton. Thus Dymphna, like Mister Leland, is one of the few white characters who raise some questions about the society in which she lives. She is still affected by racism, but she is more aware and concerned about the lives of people who are unjustly treated. She also realizes that her greatest contribution can be to leave other people alone and allow them to live their lives in peace.

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