List of Characters
Nine Unnamed Men from the town of Ruby—they are the figures around whom Chapter One centers.
Morgan—the ironmonger (blacksmith) who contributes his nails to the Oven at the founding of the town of Haven.
Ossie—a citizen of Haven who had once organized a horse race as part of a town celebration and picnic.
Ruby—the woman after whom the town of Ruby was named. She was the mother of the youngest of the nine men, the aunt of the twins.
Mavis Albright—a housewife in Maryland whose baby twins have suffocated in a parked car; she is 27 years old.
Frank Albright—Mavis’ husband.
Sal—Mavis and Frank’s daughter, the eldest of their children.
Frankie and Billy James—Mavis and Frank’s two sons.
Merle and Pearl—Mavis and Frank’s deceased twins.
June—the journalist who interviews Mavis and her children.
Birdie Goodroe—Mavis’ mother.
Dusty—the first of the hitchhikers Mavis picks up on her way West.
Bennie—the last of the hitchhikers that Mavis picks up.
Connie—a woman who takes Mavis in at the Convent. Connie reappears as Consolata later in the novel.
Soane Morgan (nee Blackhorse)—a rather formal, well-to-do woman who comes to the Convent to pick up pecans and some other mystery item. She is married to Deacon Morgan.
Soane Morgan’s son—an unnamed young man who...
(The entire section is 1021 words.)
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The Characters (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
The stern voices of Morrison’s two protagonists, Deacon and Steward Morgan, set the novel’s tone. Inheriting the patriarchal leadership of Ruby by virtue of their wealth and bloodline, the two men rule over money, property, and ultimately the moral sanctity of Ruby’s history. Insisting on a hard respect for an ethic of hard work, strength, and moral purity, they control of the town. Morrison uses their characters to resonate the voices of the past and emphasize the town’s lack of its own voice for the present world. Anything that threatens to dishonor the town’s ancestral covenant is condemned by one of the twins. Although they publicly inveigh against the sins of the flesh, however, both twins have privately violated the ethic that they so stringently guard. Their self-righteousness and the evil they do to maintain it is the catalyst for other Ruby men who lack the nerve to act. Their wives, Soane and Dovey, likewise epitomize the meek submission of the Ruby women to their men.
Consolata, who has been at the Convent since nuns rescued her from poverty in Brazil, presides over the company of bruised women at the Convent, which is still a respite for orphaned souls and wounded spirits. First comes Mavis, who has inadvertently allowed her babies to suffocate in a hot parked car. Driven to a private madness, she steals her husband’s car and flees. Grace, the next to arrive at the Convent, comes to town in sleazy glory, arousing the lust of...
(The entire section is 582 words.)
The Characters (Masterplots II: African American Literature, Revised Edition)
The stories of the women living in the Convent form the center of Paradise. Although the women are unknown to one another when each arrives at the house, they quickly form a community. Each woman is running away from a particularly bad situation in life and finds some redemption in the community at the Convent.
Formerly a nun in Brazil, Mary Magna moved into the embezzler’s mansion outside of Ruby in order to establish a school for Native American girls. Soon, however, the last student has passed through the Convent’s doors, and Mary begins her slow decline. Although she figures little in the novel after her death, she symbolizes the spiritual power of the women who follow her.
Connie becomes the spiritual leader of the Convent after Mary’s death. Before assuming this role, however, she engages in an affair with Deacon Morgan, one of the men who eventually attacks the Convent. Devastated when he ends their affair, Connie sinks into alcoholism before the plight of the women around her rouses her to spiritual healing. Her openness to spiritual vision and to the supernatural provides her with powers of healing and insight that help transform the women but that the men of the town view as witchcraft. In the opening scene of the novel, Connie tries to heal the white girl who has been shot, only to be shot herself by Steward Morgan, the identical twin of her former lover.
Mavis Albright is the first of the outsiders to...
(The entire section is 841 words.)
Like the books of William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf, whose influence on Morrison's art is well documented in the criticism and in her statements about her work, Paradise paints a vast canvas populated by many characters. Because Morrison is interested in portraying a community (a recurring motif in her fiction), the sheer volume of characters challenges even the most alert reader's memory. There were, after all, nine original founding families, each of which leaves a legacy of descendants who know the Founders' history and the folklore of their collective past. Moreover, each woman who comes to the Convent has a private family history, usually painful, and most have lovers or friends whom they encountered on their "road of sorrow" that led them to Oklahoma. The cast of characters is of epic proportions, so much so that a few readers have suggested that a genealogy similar to those prepared for some of Faulkner's novels would be helpful in keeping the families and characters straight. In this novel, furthermore, character is a complex combination of social, religious, intellectual, and emotional forces. Because character in any great novel is inextricably linked with theme and social concerns, many of the Convent women's characters were discussed in the "Themes" section and some of the Ruby families' characters were discussed in the "Social Concerns" section. Here we shall focus on the two male characters who offer a possible ray of hope, Reverend Richard...
(The entire section is 2481 words.)