At the beginning of the novel, McMillan provides a monologue for each of the main characters, Zora and Franklin, setting them up as two people looking to better themselves. Both want success, and both are lonely but afraid of being hurt as they have been so many times before. This information, in addition to that about their class differences, foreshadows the struggle ahead.
Franklin is a construction worker and carpenter, employed sporadically throughout the novel. His spells of unemployment and his inability to get ahead depress him and often lead to heavy drinking and verbal abuse of Zora. He is angry at everyone, white people and his mother in particular; both are forces in his life that he believes hold him back and keep him from succeeding. Conflicting with this are his emotions for Zora, whom he loves and for whom he wants to provide. When he finds he cannot, he sinks further into depression and violence. McMillan retains the reader’s sympathy for Franklin through his point-of-view chapters; the first-person voice gives the reader insights into both characters that would otherwise be missing. Since the novel is about the relationship, such intimacy propels it and develops both the characters equally.
Zora is college educated, and she is teaching music to junior high school students when Franklin meets her. She is ambitious; she writes her own music, plans to take voice lessons, and moves to Brooklyn in order to save money for her own...
(The entire section is 563 words.)