Ellen Foster

Characters

Starletta

Characters Starletta

Ellen's black best friend begins as a somewhat immature, though very sweet young girl who enjoys playing with dolls and other childish toys. Throughout the course of the novel, she undergoes a dramatic change, in both body and mind, as she enters into a more mature adolescence from her prolonged phase of childhood. This metamorphosis is marked at the close of the novel, when, having abandoned toys for boys, she develops a serious infatuation for a white boy from school. She knows that because of her race, she will not be able to date a white boy, but she understands that a white man can provide her with a more financially promising future.

However, Starletta's crush on a white boy marks more than the beginning of her adolescence. More importantly, it speaks to Starletta's bravery and her bold attitude in daring to do something that is not only taboo, but socially impossible. During the 1970s, in Ellen's southern community, it was completely unacceptable for a black child to be friends with a white person. Thus, her friendship with Ellen is, in itself, an act of bravery. Starletta also dares to break a social rule when accepting Ellen's offer to sleep over her house, and Ellen delights in their rebellion.

It is during her sleepover at Ellen's that Starletta is at her most gracious. She is rather quiet, and, as Ellen reports, does not like to talk very much, though it seems that she and Ellen share an unspeakable closeness. This closeness is strengthened as Ellen confesses to her the racial prejudices she once harbored. Starletta gives little reaction, but she accepts Ellen's apology and, in her quiet, seems to forgive Ellen for her former prejudices. This scene illuminates Starletta's profound sense of understanding. She does not argue with Ellen or even seem hurt at her confession. Instead, she simply and silently overlooks Ellen's former biases, just as she overlooks the boundaries placed on her by discriminatory racial and social rules.