The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Brown Bomber
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
When we read the words Brown Bomber, the first thing we think of sure isn't a car. After all, Shmoop's car is just named Wendy. But then again, we're dealing with the Weird Watsons here, so we never know what to expect.
We get the feeling that this old car has been through a lot with the Watsons, and now it has a very important job: to get the Watsons safely to Birmingham and back. This is no small task, since Birmingham is about 800 miles away (slash two million, according to Kenny), and they'll have to drive through some parts of the country where it can be dangerous to be African American. The Brown Bomber never lets them down, though, not even when Dad decides to push it to the limit and drive all 800 miles nonstop.
In a way, the Brown Bomber represents the Watson family. Let's see what Kenny has to say about it:
It didn't matter who won the argument 'cause the car started rocking me to sleep. Maybe someone could say the Brown Bomber was old and ugly, but you could never say anything bad about its seats, they were the best things in the world. (10.26)
And later, when they stop at that spooky Tennessee rest stop in the middle of the night, nobody feels safe until they're piled back in the Brown Bomber heading down the highway together again.
Doesn't it sound a lot like the Watson family? In the end, it doesn't matter who wins the argument because this family loves each other through thick and thin. In the Watson family, you feel safe and comfortable no matter what's going on outside. And they can all be counted on, even when they're pushed to their limits.
That's the best kind of family to be a part of, and deep down, we think every one of the Watsons knows it.