78 pages 2 hours read

Richard Peck

The River Between Us

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2003

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Character Analysis

Tilly Pruitt

Fifteen-year-old Tilly Pruitt is the narrator for most of the book. She narrates in a colloquial southern dialect that reflects the time period, the setting, and her lack of formal education. She lives with her mother, her twin brother, Noah, and her younger sister, Cass. Of the Pruitt children, Tilly is the most reliable and capable; this leads her to take on much of the household’s emotional labor. She decides early in the book that “anything that worries Mama ought to worry me” (19). Throughout the story, Tilly remains the steady and reliable daughter/sibling. She consistently takes care of Cass, leaves her hometown to care for Noah and bring him back to the family, and is assigned as a chaperone to Delphine when the young women from New Orleans arrive.

Tilly is a round and dynamic character who is strongly influenced by Delphine. Once Delphine arrives, Tilly grows more confident in herself and her place in the world. When Delphine allows her to use her hand mirror, Tilly says, “I’m not sure I knew that I existed and took up space of my own before I saw me in that mirror” (49). Even Mama recognizes the effect Delphine has on Tilly, saying, “Delphine’s wearing off on you too […] it’s in your walk, a little.