Narrator—unnamed. Moves in and out of the story.
Violet Trace—The main character, a hairdresser. She has been married to Joe Trace for 20 years. She has trouble holding on to her husband and her sanity. When her husband shoots his lover, Violet is thrown out of the funeral for trying to disfigure the corpse’s face.
Joe Trace—A main character, the husband of Violet, a cosmetics salesman. He has named himself Trace because he can find no trace of his mother.
Dorcas Manfred—The 18-year-old girl that Joe falls in love with. She is being raised by her aunt Alice Manfred because her parents were killed in racial incidents. Her only interest is to explore her sexuality.
Wild—Joe Trace’s mother. She could not speak and lived almost like an animal in the cane fields. Joe was hurt that she could never care for him or acknowledge him as a child.
Golden Gray—A white-skinned man whose blood is half black. He is named for the color of his eyes. As a child, he was cared for by Violet’s grandmother, True Belle. His mother is Vera Louise Gray and his father is Henry Lestory. When he finds out his father is black, he vows to kill him.
Rose Dear—Violet Trace’s mother. The pressures of trying to provide for her children lead her to commit suicide by throwing herself down a well.
True Belle—Violet’s grandmother, Rose Dear’s mother. She comes to the rescue of the family when they are penniless. She also raised Joe’s father, Golden Gray
(The entire section is 634 words.)