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History: David was born in New York City in 1883, to a working class Jewish family. He has one older sister, Sarah, a younger brother, Les. David's parents wished for a better life for their children and made sure that they were sent to school and had every chance. However, when aged 16, David's father breaks his arm at his factory job, and gets fired. David is convinced that with the protection of a union, he would still have a job. Meanwhile, as their father cannot find more work until his arm has healed, David stops school and gets a job as a newsboy, Les insisting on doing the same.

David meets the other newsies including their de facto leader, Jack Kelly, who takes David and Les under his wing to teach them how to sell papers. David and Jack quickly become close friends, and David finds himself looking up to Jack despite their very different personalities and outlooks on life. No sooner has David begun to settle into the job, however, than the owner of the paper the newsies distribute, Joseph Pulitzer, decides to raise the price of newspapers for purchase by the newsies, hoping to drive up his own profits, but in reality leaving the newsies unable to afford to buy his papers to sell on, and unable to make a living.

Inspired by the recent trolley car strikes, as well as David's father's case, the newsies decide to strike. While Jack is made the strike leader, David is the power behind the throne, so to speak, telling Jack the right things to say, as David is more eloquent given his schooling, as well as more idealistic than Jack, as well as becoming a diplomat, being essential in the recruitment of Spot Conlon and his Brooklyn newsies to their cause. David also persuades the more rough and ready newsies, at least for a while, that resorting to violence will hinder rather than help their cause. David soon strikes up another important friendship, with Brian Denton, a reporter from the New York Sun who decides to cover the strike from the perspective of the newsies. David looks up to Denton as a mentor figure, using the power of words to tell the truth in the face of the threat of the power of Pulitzer and Hearst.

When a rally for newsies across the city at Irving Hall is broken up by the police, David is arrested along with the rest of the newsies, Denton paying their fines. All apart from Jack, who is tried separately as the strike's leader. It is revealed that Jack's real name is Francis Sullivan, and his mother is dead and his father in jail, contradicting the story that Jack told David when they met. Hurt that his friend has lied to him, things get worse for David when Denton informs him that none of the papers have printed any news about the Irving Hall rally, and that he has been reassigned by his paper to cover the Spanish-American War. He gives David the article he had written on the rally, that his paper had refused to print, but David casts it away, disappointed and angry.

Declaring that he will trust no one but the newsies now, David goes to free Jack from the Refuge, a juvenile detention facility. When he encounters Jack, he angrily shouts at David to get out of here, and David leaves, hurt and confused. The next day, Jack appears in Herald Square in a new, fancy suit of clothes, and crosses the picket line. David confronts him, hurt and betrayed, and Jack says that he has to look out for himself, rather than the bond he has with the newsies, which practically speaking has never got him anything, and Pulitzer has offered him money and a train ticket out of New York. David realises that things are up to him now, and he has to have the confidence to voice the ideals that he's given Jack the words to say before.

The two are reconciled when Jack intervenes in an attack on David's sister. He realises that the friendship they have is more important than the lifestyle Pulitzer has offered him. When David's sister produces the article that Denton wrote, Jack and David begin to realize just how important their strike is, not just to the newsies, but to all of the child labour in the city. With Denton's help, Jack and David produce their own newsletter to distribute en masse to all the child workers in New York, to inform them of their rights, and how these rights are being abused. They even borrow Pulitzer's printing press to print the newsletters on.

The next day, children from all over the city flood into Herald Square to join the protests. Jack and David confront Pulitzer, who is still only concerned with his own self-interest and his wounded pride. However, both the deafening din of the protesters and the knowledge that the strike pamphlet was printed on his printing press, which would humiliate him, forces Pulitzer to relent, and the newsies' terms for the ending of the strike are met. David returns to his job as a newsie, and unlike at the beginning of the movie, he now truly belongs within their ranks.


Above all, David is a young man of principle. Throughout the film, he never once sacrifices or compromises his convictions, even as those around him give up or sell out. His principles are an integral part of who he is. He doesn't like to see injustice, especially when those at the top abuse those at the bottom for no reason. David has a very idealistic view of the world, and this is both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand, his drive to make a difference and help himself and those around him is a large part of what makes the strike a success. On the other hand, David's idealistic nature tends to make him naive, as he tends to think that those around him share this worldview. This naiveté means that David often ends up disillusioned in those around him, especially when Jack and Denton, both of whom David looks up to enormously, put their own interests before those of the group. David feels that they have sold out, and it's something that he just can't comprehend, both because he would never be capable of doing that himself, but also because they destroyed the image he had of them. David's naive idealism also extends to the very act of the strike himself. When his father is fired after breaking his arm, David declares that this injustice would never have been allowed to happen if he had a union supporting him. He has a romantic image of unions as heroic defenders of the working man and a single voice speaking in unison against oppressors, completely ignoring the violence in the streets that the trolley strikes have incited among the workers on both sides of the picket lines. And when the newsies' strike turns violent, David is the only one of the strikers to stand back and not get involved in the brawls. While he knows that violence will only give them a bad name, it's a view that he finds difficult to convince the rest of the newsies to share, due to their very different upbringings. This is one example, as well as showing David's idealistic pacifistic nature, that also shows how much of a fish out of water he is among the rest of the newsies. He has been raised in a loving household rather than on the streets of New York, and sometimes he's caught off guard and isn't sure how to react to the others. He's sometimes mocked for his politeness, and is sometimes awkward around the rest of the newsies. His upbringing also means that he isn't at all street-smart, and this can be taken advantage of, such as at the beginning of the movie where he is swindled out of some of the newspapers that he buys. He plays fair and expects others to do the same. It's also for this reason that he expects their demands to be heard and met, because he doesn't understand that Pulitzer won't play fair to get an advantage over them. Despite the fact that he isn't very world savvy, David is still very intelligent, he's just more book smart. He is very eloquent and knows how to put across a convincing argument. However, he often lacks the confidence to say what he feels, which is why (aside from the fact that Jack is already respected among the newsies) Jack becomes the de facto strike leader - he's speaking David's words because, as Jack tells David later on, he didn't have the courage to say them himself. It takes Jack and Denton's betrayals for David to finally gather the courage to speak his beliefs for himself. David doesn't steal or lie, even to the extent that he doesn't like improving the truth on the headlines to sell more papers. He also has a good deal of pride, and refuses to accept charity from anyone.


Nov. 27th, 2012 09:38 pm
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Questions, comments, and concerns about the way I play David go here. Please keep it constructive :)
seizingtheday: (015 → and all for one)

This is David. I'm sorry I missed you. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.
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The easiest way to contact me is through Plurk, or to PM me on Davey's journal.

Plurk: [ profile] viridianwings
AIM: viridianwings
Personal Journal: [personal profile] viridianwings
Musebox: [personal profile] circusofvalues

My timezone is GMT, and I am usually online 2pm to 1am GMT.


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David Jacobs

November 2013

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