34 pages 1 hour read

Jacqueline Woodson

Miracle's Boys

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Important Quotes

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“In the summer I go down south to my great-aunt Cecile’s house. If the watermelons are ripe, she’ll buy one. When we get home, she always takes it out back and breaks it open against a rock, then scoops out the heart of it—the sweetest, reddest part—and hands it to me. I stared out the window. Somebody had done that to Charlie. Scooped out his heart and sent the empty, bitter rind of him home.”

(Chapter 1, Page 6)

Lafayette makes an analogy between the sweet part of the watermelon and the kindness of his brother, Charlie, whom he now associates with the “bitter rind” of the watermelon. Throughout the novel, Lafayette is insistent that Charlie has changed since his return from Rahway. Charlie, once warm, kind, and caring, now treats Lafayette cruelly.

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“‘Later, Milagros killer.’

‘Oh shoot.’ Aaron laughed. ‘That’s cold, man.’

‘It’s true,’ Charlie said.”

(Chapter 1, Page 15)

Charlie holding Lafayette responsible for their mother’s death is central to the novel’s conflict. Here, Charlie calls Lafayette a “Milagros killer” in a joking manner, but Lafayette is certain that Charlie is sincere in this harsh accusation, and a part of him believes that he deserves this Guilt and Blame. For Lafayette, this is further evidence of Charlie’s newly acquired meanness and the presence of “Newcharlie.”

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“My great-aunt Cecile’s all the time saying dead don’t have to mean dead and gone, and I like to believe that.”

(Chapter 2, Page 19)

Lafayette not only clings to memories of his mother, but he also talks with her daily, imagining that she is present, which he learned in part from his great-aunt Cecile. This appears to be an effective way of coping with his grief, as he actively works through his sadness over her death.