Comparing the Characters in One Crazy Summer

Comparing the Characters in One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

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Comparing the Characters in One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Authored by Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer is a fictional novel that follows the lives of three sisters, Vonetta, Delphine, and Fern who are visiting their mother in the summer of 1968 in Oakland, California. Published in 2009, Garcia narrated how Delphine, who is the eldest alongside her two sisters, get reunited with their estranged mother after abandoning them for nearly six years. The three sisters are the main characters in this novel. They share a strong sisterhood bond, but they carry unique perspectives and personalities. This essay compares and contrasts the characters of Delphine and Fern in Rita Williams-Garcia’s novel One Crazy Summer.

Delphine Gaither and Fern Gaither share various differences. Delphine is an African American girl who is 11 years old. She is the firstborn daughter to Cecile Johnson. Her mother abandoned her and her sisters at the age of six. Delphine struggles with her sense of responsibility to be a mother figure to her two and her desire to enjoy her childhood. At the start of the novel, Delphine is old-fashioned when it comes to ideas about her racial identity. However, as the story develops, Delphine starts accepting the drawbacks of her sister-mother figure to her sisters which is why she starts being more racially conscious. At the beginning of the novel, Delphine embraces her new caregiving role. When she is told by to look after her sisters, she does it without question. She feeds them, bathes them, and keeps them safe from their mother who shows no interest in cuddling them. She gets her identity because of being a responsible sister that looks out for her sibling. However, the longer she stays with her mother in Oakland, the less she dislikes the role. However, she refuses to heed her mother’s advice to take on less responsibility as she believes it is her sisters that will suffer the consequence. Compared to Fern, Delphine is more aware of injustice and racism issues that surround them. Delphine is also resentful towards Cecile because she had no choice but to take up the mother role at a tender age and dislikes speaking in public (Williams-Garcia & Johnson, 2010, 37). On the other hand, Fern who is the youngest of the three sisters is naïve and not as aware about the issues of racism and injustice that are around them. She is seven years old and looks up to Delphine. She is thoughtful, pensive and poetic just like her mother. Fern is a force; despite her age, she can stand up for herself.

Despite their difference in age, Delphine and Fern have various similarities. One of them is that they were both love each other a lot. One can tell they have a strong bond in how they care for each other and are there for each other. Delphine, for instance, did not hesitate to fill the shoes left by her mother. She mothers up and takes care of her sisters including feeding them, clothing them and bathing them. When their mother tells Delphine to drop some her responsibilities, she declines, saying it would be her sisters that would suffer the consequences. Fern, on the other hand, shows her sister love by listening to her and doing what she is told. Another similarity is that they were both raised by Big ma and Pa. Another similarity they share is that they were both abandoned by their mother at a tender age.

In closing, the characters in Garcia’s novel ‘Characters in One Crazy Summer share similarities and differences. Delphine is the oldest sister who is forced to play the role of both mother and sister at the young age of 11 and as a result, she is responsible. On the other hand, despite being young, Fern manages to stand up for herself despite being naïve about racism and injustices.


Williams-Garcia, R., & Johnson, S. A. (2010). One crazy summer (p. 240). New York: Amistad.