The story “The Parents” by Kelly Cherry only features collective characters, the parents and the children. They represent general categories of people. The narrator identifies with the collective character of the parents, and the text is consequently a first-person plural narration.
The parents are a collective character and function as a collective narrator. Elements of their outer characterization are only briefly suggested or mentioned. We can assume they are American based on the references to a parade and Disney characters (p. 47, ll. 2-5). Also, when they are getting old they lose their memories, they “forget more and more often” (p. 47, ll. 17-18), and they shrink (p. 47, l. 24).
The parents’ inner characterization presents them as people who enjoy entertainment and are protective of their children. They go to a Disney parade and when their children get lost they react desperately: “Lost at the parade! Where are our babies, our babies? We are looking for them everywhere, frantically, everyone helping and shouting: Find the babies!” (p. 47, ll. 8-10)
When they find their babies, who have now grown up into teenagers, the parents have a hard time recognizing them and accepting that their children are becoming adults:
The children are the second collective character in this story. Their outer characterization is mostly about their appearance. Initially they are “blue-eyed babies, brown-eyed babies” (p. 47, ll.1-2). As they grow up, their bodies change:
When it comes to inner characterization, the children are presented from their parents’ perspective. When they are small, children need to be protected and supervised; otherwise they might get lost: