There are many characters in Anne Moody's autobiography Coming of Age. Let us outline some of the more significant ones:
- Anne Moody: Anne is the protagonist and narrator. She is the daughter of two sharecroppers and spends the first four years of her life living in a shack on the white-owned plantation where her parents work. Despite her unfortunate circumstances—the split-up of her parents, poverty, and the racism which surrounds her in the Deep South—Anne is an incredibly hardworking and smart girl who is determined to make the most of her life. She puts herself through school, earns a scholarship for her basketball skills, joins the NAACP, and works for CORE to register African American voters. She becomes involved in marches, protests, and general activism in the Civil Rights movement in order to fight for racial justice and equality.
- Mama: Mama is Anne's mother, who is abandoned early on in the book by her husband. She moves Anne's family to Centreville and works hard as a maid and in a restaurant to support the family. She winds up dating and marrying Raymond, a man who gives her another six children and who finds himself incapable of financially supporting the family. Mama does not support Anne's activism and asks her to stop, claiming that her involvement in the movement is making life hard for their family back in Centreville.
- Daddy: Daddy is Anne's father. He abandons the family early on after developing a gambling habit and becoming involved with other women. Anne redevelops a relationship with him after leaving her mother's house.
- Raymond: Raymond is Mama's boyfriend, who she eventually marries. He builds her a house, but is ultimately unable to financially support the family. Anne's relationship with Raymond fractures when she discovers that he has a sexual interest in her. This causes Anne to leave her family's house forever.
- Mrs. Rice: Mrs. Rice, a high school teacher, is the person who tells Anne about the NAACP and educates her about the historical treatment of African Americans. She is "something like a mother" to Anne.
- Mrs. Burke: Mrs. Burke is a mean white woman in town who consistently agitates the other white women in Centreville to have a bias against the African American community. She does not like that her son is friends with Anne, and she consequently implies that Anne has stolen from her.
- Mr. C. O. Chinn and Mrs. Chinn: C. O. Chinn and Mrs. Chin are the wealthiest African Americans in Canton and big supporters of the civil rights movement. Their involvement in CORE results in them losing their business and lands Mr. Chinn on a chain gang.
- Medgar Evers: Medgar Evers is the NAACP field secretary who is murdered in 1963, causing much unrest in the movement.
- Reverend King: Reverend King is a white minister who becomes close to Anne while they work in the movement in Tugaloo.
- Joan Trumpauer: Joan is the white secretary for SNCC who encourages Anne's involvement in the voter registration drive for the Mississippi Delta.
Anne Moody narrates her autobiography. She is born to a poor, rural southern African-American family. Although she grows up in abject poverty, Anne is always determined to better herself. She studies hard and makes excellent grades in school. She starts working when she is only in the fourth grade, and she gives some money toward the upkeep of her family, but she also starts saving for college.
When Anne is fifteen years old, Emmett Till is murdered. This example of racial violence sparks Anne's awareness of the social injustice that pervades the South. She comes to hate everyone: whites for treating African Americans so badly and African Americans for not standing up for their rights. She learns about the NAACP from a teacher, but this teacher also tells her to take her mind off the killings and beatings because the African-American community in Centreville won't take action against such mistreatment. Anne tries to subvert her thoughts by joining many extracurricular activities, such as dance,...
(The entire section is 2,559 words.)