Hakim-a-barber is a mispronunciation of the Black-Muslim greeting "Asalamalakim," which Dee's mother confuses for her elder daughter's new boyfriend's name. Dee has returned home with this person who appears to be a part of the Black Power movement based on his dress and long "hair to his navel." He rejects the types of foods, like collard greens and pork, that are traditional to African-American homes.
Probably the most significant thing about Hakim-a-barber is the mispronunciation of his name. Mrs. Johnson does not understand the Black nationalist ideas that he represents. Her mispronuncition of his name highlights the obvious gap between him and rural African-American culture.
John Thomas, "(who has mossy teeth in an earnest face),"is the man that Mrs. Johnson imagines Maggie will probably marry. He is barely mentioned other than the fact that whenMaggie marries him, Mrs. Johnsonsupposes shewill "be free to sit here and I guess just sing church songs to myself.
John Thomas probably represents a couple of things:
- Mrs. Johnson's anxiety about being alone in her old age
- Thomas, whose name is common and familiar in this culture,is a part of the rural African-American lifestyle. His "mossy teeth" might connote the less-than-desirable aspects of this poor life, but his "earnest face" connotes honesty--a what you see is what you get quality to his character. He may not be as interesting as Hakim, but he is real.