34 pages 1 hour read

Jacqueline Woodson

Miracle's Boys

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1996

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Character Analysis

Lafayette Bailey

The novel’s protagonist and narrator, Lafayette, is a 12-year-old boy living in a New York City borough. He is quiet, soft-spoken, and contemplative. Since the death of his mother, he has grown increasingly antisocial, keeping to himself in the family’s apartment instead of playing with friends. He has been deeply affected by the unexpected death of his mother and, because he found her unresponsive, blames himself for her death. Much of the novel’s conflict revolves around Lafayette’s acknowledgment that he is not to blame for her death and his acceptance that there was nothing he could have done to change the outcome. Lafayette’s grief drives the novel’s plot, and he often speaks to his mother, imagining her there. The loss of his mother and his sadness over her absence shapes Lafayette’s character greatly.

Lafayette has a fierce love for both of his older brothers. As both of his parents are deceased, he is dependent on Ty’ree, the oldest of the Bailey sons, to raise and care for him. Lafayette is an observant adolescent, aware that their lack of financial security is a source of stress for Ty’ree. In this way, Lafayette exhibits uncommon maturity. Charlie is also a source of conflict for Lafayette: As Charlie places blame on Lafayette for their mother’s death, Lafayette’s own sense of responsibility is exacerbated.