The Other Foot

by

Ray Bradbury

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Willie Johnson Character Analysis

Willie Johnson lives on Mars with his wife, Hattie, and their three children. Their community is populated entirely by black people who fled widespread racism and cruelty on Earth twenty years prior. Willie grew up in Greenwater, Alabama, where he witnessed the horrors of slavery and racism—his father was hanged and his mother was shot by white people. When Willie learns that the white man is coming to Mars, he sees it as a chance to exact revenge and subject white people to the same inhumane treatment that black people had to endure on Earth. For much of the story, Willie is gruff and cruel. At one point, his wife tells him that he doesn’t “sound human,” underscoring the inhumanity of wanting to reestablish prejudice in their small, peaceful town. A natural leader, Willie initially uses his power to perpetuate racism and form a mob that looks to him for direction. Ultimately, with Hattie’s help, Willie is able to understand that the Earth people have suffered feelings of pain, isolation, and homelessness in the past twenty years similar to those feelings that black people felt when they were on Earth. He realizes that everyone is “even” and encourages his fellow Martians to tear down all of the segregationist signs that he had just instructed them to put up.

Willie Johnson Quotes in The Other Foot

The The Other Foot quotes below are all either spoken by Willie Johnson or refer to Willie Johnson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Other Foot published in 2012.
The Other Foot Quotes

I’m not feeling Christian […] I’m just feeling mean. After all them years of doing what they did to our folks—my mom and dad, and your mom and dad—You remember? You remember how they hung my father on Knockwood Hill and shot my mother? You remember? Or you got a memory that’s short like the others?

Related Characters: Willie Johnson (speaker), Hattie Johnson, The White Man
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

“Well […] the shoe’s on the other foot now. We’ll see who gets laws passed against him, who gets lynched, who rides the back of streetcars, who gets segregated in shows. We’ll just wait and see.”

Related Characters: Willie Johnson (speaker), Hattie Johnson, The White Man
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

Willie plunged out of the house. “You children come inside, I’m locking you up. You ain’t seeing no white man, you ain’t talking about them, you ain’t doing nothing.”

Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

All along the road people were looking up in the sky, or climbing in their cars, or riding in cars, and guns were sticking up out of some cars like telescopes sighting all the evils of a world coming to an end.

Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

The people were so close together it looked like one dark body with a thousand arms reaching out to take the weapons.

Related Characters: Willie Johnson, The White Man
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

She wanted to get at the hate of them all, to pry at it and work at it until she found a little chink, and then pull out a pebble or a stone or a brick and then a part of the wall, and once started, the whole edifice might roar down and be done away with. It was teetering now. But which was the keystone, and how to get at it? How to touch them and get a thing started in all of them to make a ruin of their hate?

Related Characters: Willie Johnson, Hattie Johnson
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

“The Lord’s let us come through, a few here and a few there. And what happens next is up to all of us. The time for being fools is over. We got to be something else except fools. […] now the white man’s as lonely as we’ve always been. He’s got no home now, just like we didn’t have one for so long. Now everything’s even. We can start all over again, on the same level.”

Related Characters: Willie Johnson (speaker), Hattie Johnson, The White Man
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Other Foot LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Other Foot PDF

Willie Johnson Character Timeline in The Other Foot

The timeline below shows where the character Willie Johnson appears in The Other Foot. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Other Foot
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
Hattie notices her husband Willie driving by and shouts for him. Angrily, he asks why she’s in this part of... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Willie demands that Hattie get in his car and glares at her until she complies. As... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Willie asks Hattie if she remembers “what they did to our folks,” and how white people... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Hattie tells her husband that he’s “talking trouble,” but Willie dismisses her. He says that for years people have idly wondered what would happen if... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Hattie disapprovingly tells Willie that he doesn’t “sound human,” but he tells her to “get used to it.” Pulling... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
...goes into the house as well. Peering up into the dark attic, she can’t see Willie at all—she can only hear his swearing and see the “brutal metal” of the guns... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
...chatter about the white man, saying that he is white like milk, chalk, and flowers. Willie “shove[s]” his children inside, telling them they won’t see and can’t talk about the white... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Back on the road, Hattie tells Willie to “slow up,” but he refuses, insisting it is time to hurry. The road is... (full context)
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
As Willie navigates the throng of cars, Hattie feels anxiety and fear churning through her. People from... (full context)
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
A crowd surrounds Willie and asks what to do. Willie begins passing out weapons, and the crowd is so... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
...including women carrying picnic baskets and men wearing straw hats. Climbing into the empty trolley, Willie begins to paint. The conductor objects, but when he sees that Willie has painted “For... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Returning to the growing crowd, Willie climbs onto packing boxes and asks for volunteers to paint streetcars and rope off theater... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Hurrying toward Willie, the town’s mayor demands he climb down off of the boxes and asserts that Willie... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Willie looks toward the town, where people are hanging freshly-painted signs reading, “Limited Clientele: Right to... (full context)
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Holding the rope tied into a noose, Willie addresses the crowd and asks if they’re ready. Half of the crowd eagerly calls back,... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Willie tenses and his fingers tighten around his rope. The old man repeats, “We’ve been fools.”... (full context)
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
...silence of the crowd feels “like a pressure of a distant storm.” Many people watch Willie, who is still holding the rope. Hattie holds her husband’s arm and waits. She wants... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Suddenly, Hattie realizes that Willie is the “keystone,” and “if he could be pried loose,” then maybe everyone’s hatred will... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
...tree on Knockwood Hill, the old man affirms that all of the trees were destroyed. Willie speaks up, asking, “That tree went, you’re sure?” When the man confirms, Willie’s body loosens. (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Willie asks about Mr. Burton and his house, and the old man says that no people... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
With the rope still in his hands, Willie thinks about the Earth that he knew, “the green Earth and the green town where... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Willie loosens his fingers, and the rope drops to the ground. He tells the white man... (full context)
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...home, Hattie affirms that this will be “A new start for everyone.” After a while, Willie answers that God allowed them to come to Mars, and that “what happens next is... (full context)
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
At home, Willie sits in the car while Hattie lets the boys out of the house. The children... (full context)