64 pages 2 hours read

Markus Zusak

Bridge of Clay

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2018

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Character Analysis

Clay Dunbar

Clay Dunbar is the novel’s protagonist but is not the novel’s narrator, a distinction that is not often seen in fiction. He is the fourth of the five Dunbar brothers. He is said to look like his father, Michael, and is exceptionally athletic. He is known both for his speed and his endurance. He takes pleasure in physical punishments; his resistance to pain makes him a source of interest to the local boys who participate in races and fights against him for money. Clay is quiet, speaking so infrequently that his brothers tease him when he expresses himself. He is also referred to as the smiler because he smiles when he has been beaten in a physical fight. He is in love with his neighbor, Carey Novac, and is the first of the Dunbar brothers to forgive his father for abandoning them after their mother’s death.

Clay is the most attentive of his brothers, asking his parents for stories and learning the family history. This ultimately turns him into the novel’s storyteller—he shares the family history with Matthew and enables the writing of the book, making him integral to the story despite his lack of active storytelling construction.

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By Markus Zusak