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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 260

Emma Lou Morgan is a young African-American from Boise, Idaho. Throughout Thurman's novel, she experiences discrimination from whites and light-skinned blacks due to her dark complexion.

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Uncle Joe is Emma Lou's uncle and the only person in her mother's family with whom she has a close relationship. He serves as a guide for Emma Lou and suggests she travel to Los Angeles to attend college. There, she would face less judgement regarding her skin tone.

Weldon Taylor is a young man Emma Lou meets in Boise at a picnic. After sleeping with him, Emma Lou believes she is in love with Weldon. However, when he leaves Boise for a job, she is convinced he left her because of the color of her skin.

Hazel Mason is the first black student Emma Lou meets while attending the University of Southern California. Hazel labels Emma Lou as the "wrong kind of Negro."

John is the first man Emma Lou develops feelings for in Harlem.

Alva is a light-skinned man from Harlem. He is also an alcoholic with a history of scamming women out of their money.

Braxton, Alva's roommate, disapproves of Alva's relationship with Emma Lou due to her dark skin.

Geraldine, Alva's friend, bares his child. Upon discovering the baby was born with birth defects, she abandons both the baby and Alva.

Arline Strange is an actress and Emma Lou's boss. She works as her maid and helps with Arline's costumes and make-up.

Emma Lou met Gwendolyn Johnson at the Young Women's Christian Association. She marries Emma Lou's ex-boyfriend Benson Brown.

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