Southern realism; coming-of-age novel


An anonymous third person narrator

Point of view 

Third person omniscient


Varies depending on which character is the focus of that part of the narrative (Singer is calm, Mick is childish and excitable, Jake is ranting; Dr. Copeland is precise yet angry; Biff is thoughtful and somewhat jumbled


Immediate past

Setting (time) 

Spring 1938–August 1939

Setting (place) 

An unnamed town in the middle of the Deep South


John Singer, Mick Kelly, Biff Brannon, Dr. Copeland, and Jake Blount

Major conflict 

The characters' hopes and ambitions are stymied by life's circumstances and each character's individual flaws


John Singer's suicide

Falling action 

Dr. Copeland's move to Grandpapa's house; Jake's departure; Mick's thoughts about Mr. Singer at the New York Café; Biff's thoughts about Mr. Singer at the café late at night


Violence is foreshadowed at several points in the narrative