A Different Drummer By William Melvin Kelley Character Analysis Harry Leland

Harry Leland is an important figure in this novel because he keeps the events in perspective as Tucker destroys his property. It is Harry Leland, for example, who makes the reader understand that Tucker is not crazy, as is suggested by the others at the farm. He also makes sure that the reader knows that Tucker is destroying his own property and has every right to do so if he wishes. Further, Harry explains that the departure of the blacks is a courageous act, that they are saying No to the injustices in their lives.

Harry is the one man in the group on the porch who recognizes that blacks have been mistreated. And he is willing to do something about it — that is, he is trying to raise Harold to be a decent human being. He insists that Mister Leland use proper titles for blacks and respect them as human beings. When Harold refers to Tucker as a "nigger," Harry reprimands him and explains that one should not call people names because such names hurt and humiliate. With all of Harry's good intentions, however, he does contribute to the status quo in racial relations. He is unwilling to bare his convictions in the presence of his friends on the porch; likewise, he is not willing to speak out against his friends' racism. But perhaps Harry's reluctance to speak out is not so damning after all; Kelley makes it clear that concerning Tucker, it is not words that count — it is action. And Harry is willing to act to prevent his son from absorbing the hate and bigotry of Sutton.

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