Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: Characters & Quotes

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master’s degree in Special Education from Salem State University.

In 'Long Way Down,' Jason Reynolds weaves a bloody tale of revenge. Meet the protagonist, who is on a revenge mission, and an elevator full of ghosts whose personal connections with Will and with revenge shine a different light on Will's mission. Updated: 08/30/2020

Long Way Down

Jason Reynolds' 2017 verse novel Long Way Down acknowledges the truth that ''if the blood inside you is on the inside of someone else, you never want to see it on the outside of them'' (Reynolds 5). Will's brother Shawn was killed, and Will feels bound to follow the Rules. No one knows where the Rules originated, but everyone follows them: No crying, no snitching, and take revenge when your loved one is killed. On his way to follow Rule Three, Will rides the elevator to the lobby of his apartment building. In the elevator, he is visited by six ghosts who lay out the bloody shape of the rule of revenge.

Cast of Characters

The Narrator

William Holloman, the first-person protagonist, opens his story by saying his name is ''. . . to my friends and people who know me know me, just Will. So, call me Will, because after I tell you what I'm about to tell you you'll either want to be my friend or not want to be my friend at all. Either way, you'll know me know me'' (Reynolds 2). Will is a 15-year-old dealing with the loss of his brother. He is deeply sad but feels bound to the rules. He is conflicted, and the novel unrolls the reasons behind his conflict as it chronicles his long elevator ride to seek revenge.

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