He has clearly lived a long, hard life, and his battered body shows us this. Indirect characterization helps to provide a deeper understanding of a character. Through the questions the children have for Uncle Jimbilly, especially the younger two, Porter demonstrates their innocence further. The children thought Uncle Jimbilly had got over his slavery very well. This mentality creates some questions the children believe to be harmless; they do not fully understand the emotional strain Uncle Jimbilly faces. However, with his responses, the reader comprehends his true feelings on the matter. Maria asks him to carve Safe in Heaven on the tombstone for her rabbit.
At her question Uncle Jimbilly grows impatient and continues to reminisce about the boys in the swamp and the unfair ways they were treated. This highlights the bitter feelings he has toward his past and the fact that the children do not understand his suffering. Katherine Anne Porters use of characterization leaves the reader with a character many layers deep. She displays their colors in a way which highlights the underlying theme in The Witness. The generational gap between Uncle Jimbilly and the children is portrayed throughout the story and Uncle Jimbillys past of slavery is used as vehicle to emphasize this gap. Younger generations will never fully understand their ancestors lives, just as generations to come will not understand theirs.