Who are the characters in Nightjohn? I would like to know the characteristics for each one.

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sarny is the main character in Nightjohn.  She is twelve, and people think she is "dumb", because she has "a stuck tongue", and when she was born she "come out wrong...all backwards and twixt-and-twinst".  In reality, however, Sarny is very intelligent, and learns how to read very quickly. 

Nightjohn is a slave who is brought to the Waller plantation.  He is unique in that he once escaped to the North, but came back to teach slaves to read.  Nightjohn is courageous, and self-sacrificing.  He endures brutal punishment in order to give slaves what he considers to be their ticket to eventual emancipation - literacy, so that they might become aware of their situation and be inspired to fight for their freedom.

Mammy, or old Delie, takes care of the children on the plantation.  She is a loving figure to the young ones who are taken from their real mothers as soon as they are born.  Delie is strong, practical, and wise, maintaining an untouchable dignity even in the face of brutal and inhumane treatment at the hands of Waller.

Clel Waller is the "master" on the plantation.  He is a cruel, sadistic man who treats his slaves like animals, breeding them like livestock, working them to the point of exhaustion, and feeding them from a trough, adults and children alike.  Sarny correctly observes that he has power only because "he's got dogs and a whip and a gun and so can cause hurt".

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sarny: Sarny is the main character and the narrator, so the story is seen through her eyes. She is rebellious, but she hides this behind her quiet attitude. She believes that reading and writing is the way to fight against slavery. Her relationship with Nightjohn revolves around her learning which is considered a crime for the slaves.

Alice: Alice perhaps serves to foreshadow the fate of Sarny if she keeps insisting on pursuing learning. Alice is finally killed by the slave master's hunting dogs when she attempts to run away.

Nightjohn: Nightjohn is a heroic character who teaches Sarny how to read and write. He takes the punishment for this act and is lashed. He represents learning and freedom even though he suffers for his beliefs.

Mammy: Mammy has raised Sarny as her own. She gets upset when she discovers Nightjohn is risking everything to teach Sarny how to read and write. However, she takes the blame when Waller discovers Sarny can read. She is punished until Nightjohn steps in to take the blame himself and the full punishment.

Waller: Waller is the master on the plantation and brutally punishes the slaves.

anthenee | Student

the people in the movie/book is sarny nightjohn cele waller and mammy