The Characters (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
Dorothy is a complex character. Although she is judgmental and rigid, she is also vulnerable and insecure. She rejects those who do not meet her standards, while simultaneously yearning for loving contact with others. Solomon (Gabriel) is a sympathetic character, despite his past evil deeds. He is consistently hardworking, polite, conscientious, and helpful. He struggles to adapt in England, because he cannot return home.
A Distant Shore is populated with minor characters whose roles are important to the plot but whose lives and personalities are only superficially developed. Dorothy’s sister, Sheila, for example, turned from a rebellious and abused child into a wandering and isolated adult, abandoned by her lesbian lover. Dorothy was never able to make an emotional connection with Sheila. Nor was she abel to connect with her husband, Bryan, or her lover, Mahmood, both of whom (apparently) left her out of boredom.