The Taste of Watermelon

by

Borden Deal

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Willadean Character Analysis

Willadean is the narrator’s sixteen-year-old neighbor, a tall, slender girl who, in the past year, has begun to mature. Freddy Gray remembers how the year before, Willadean had played children’s games. But this year, she refrains from those games, and instead walks in a way that fascinates the narrator and his friends. All three of the friends are secretly vying to take her out on a date, but none of them can build up the courage to ask, because they’re scared of her father, Mr. Wills. The narrator realizes that part of the reason he feels like an outsider with Freddy Gray and J.D. is that they are afraid Willadean might like him more than them, because he is new to the neighborhood. So, partly in order to prove himself to Willadean, the narrator steals her father’s prized watermelon. But when he sees Willadean and her mother standing in the kitchen doorway, watching Mr. Wills destroy the melon crop, he realizes that he has not won Willadean’s approval at all. The next morning, she answers the door when the narrator comes to apologize to her father, and he can’t bear to look at her; when he finally does, he can’t figure out how she feels about him. But when he agrees to work for Mr. Wills, he sees that her eyes are smiling. Emboldened, he says he would be “willing to set on the porch with Willadean anytime,” and she blushes in response but doesn’t seem angry. In this way, the narrator has won Willadean’s approval—not through his rash bravado, but through his braver qualities of honesty and compassion. Their small interaction at the end of the story holds the potential for a deeper relationship, in which the narrator treats Willadean as a person instead of an object.

Willadean Quotes in The Taste of Watermelon

The The Taste of Watermelon quotes below are all either spoken by Willadean or refer to Willadean. 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:
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Cambridge University Press edition of The Taste of Watermelon published in 2018.
The Taste of Watermelon Quotes

She was my age, nearly as tall as I, and up to the year before, Freddy Gray told me, she had been good at playing Gully Keeper and Ante-Over. But she didn’t play such games this year. She was tall and slender, and Freddy Gray and J.D. and I had several discussions about the way she walked.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Willadean
Page Number: 300
Explanation and Analysis:

The moon floated up into the sky, making everything almost as bright as day, but at the same time softer and gentler than ever daylight could be. It was the kind of night when you felt you can do anything in the world, even boldly asking Willadean Wills for a date. On a night like that, you couldn’t help but feel that she’d gladly accept.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Willadean
Related Symbols: Moon
Page Number: 302
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Taste of Watermelon LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Taste of Watermelon PDF

Willadean Character Timeline in The Taste of Watermelon

The timeline below shows where the character Willadean appears in The Taste of Watermelon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Taste of Watermelon
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
Exclusion, Cruelty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Illicit Sexuality and Acceptable Romance Theme Icon
...J.D.), but he still feels like an outsider. This trio of boys are interested in Willadean, a girl their age who lives in the house next to the narrator. Willadean no... (full context)
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
Exclusion, Cruelty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Illicit Sexuality and Acceptable Romance Theme Icon
...narrator feel like he could do anything. Freddy Gray says he would like to take Willadean out, and the others laugh at him but secretly agree: they are reaching an age... (full context)
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
Rushing to Judgment Theme Icon
Exclusion, Cruelty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Illicit Sexuality and Acceptable Romance Theme Icon
...why he said that. He remembers it coming from a mixture of origins—his desire for Willadean, his anger at Mr. Wills, and his feeling like an outsider with the two boys.... (full context)
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
...that, more than “just bravado,” he is “proving something to [him]self—and to Mr. Wills and Willadean.” (full context)
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
The narrator follows his father into the watermelon patch, passing Mrs. Wills and Willadean, who are huddled in the kitchen doorway. The narrator’s father asks Mr. Wills what is... (full context)
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
Rushing to Judgment Theme Icon
Exclusion, Cruelty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Willadean opens the door and fetches Mr. Wills, who appears in the doorway looking tired from... (full context)
Coming of Age and Masculinity Theme Icon
Rushing to Judgment Theme Icon
Exclusion, Cruelty, and Belonging Theme Icon
Morality Theme Icon
Illicit Sexuality and Acceptable Romance Theme Icon
Agreeing, the narrator looks again at Willadean, whose eyes are now smiling, and feels his heart beat in his chest. He blurts... (full context)