Character Analysis of John Grimes for "The Rockpile"

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Analysis of John from “The Rockpile” “Across the street from their house, in an empty lot between two houses, stood the rockpile” (page 967). James Baldwin’s “The Rockpile” is a short story that focuses on the central characters, John, actions and experiences with a rockpile. John Grimes is the central character; he is an African-American boy living with his parents across the street from a rockpile. Gabriel and Elizabeth Grimes are John’s parents. However, he is an illegitimate child, and his only true parent is Elisabeth. This illegitimacy is a major topic throughout the story as we later see favoritism and separated filial love between characters. John struggles with different issues throughout the story. His issues start from the very beginning when him and his brother Roy are looking at the rockpile. John and Roy are sitting at their house on a Saturday morning looking at the rockpile. Stories and legends of the rockpile are well known by their community. We are exposed to one legend that states, “…without [the rockpile] the subway cars underground would fly apart, killing all of the people” (page 967). Due to these stories, in part, the rockpile possesses some kind of intriguing factor that lures the local children in. With the recent death of a child in the neighborhood, Elisabeth and Gabriel have banned their kids from going near the rockpile. The parents are strict, allowing John and Roy to only look at the majestic rockpile from a distance. John has a shy and reserved personality. He looks out for others, but gets pushed around due to his personality. We see his younger brother easily pushing him around on page 969 when the rockpile fight arises. On a particular Saturday morning, Roy gets the idea to go to the rockpile to join a fight that is about to happen. “…Roy felt it to be his right, not to say his duty, to play there” (page 967). John attempts

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