The protagonist of the story, Myop, is a skillfully if sparely drawn portrait of an enthusiastic ten-year-old girl. Readers gain little biographical information about Myop, other than the fact that she is the daughter of sharecroppers. The central fact of her character is the pleasure that she takes in the moment, in the seemingly endless summer days of childhood. This living-in-the-present, juxtaposed with the final suggestion that Myop's childhood comes to an end, makes the revelation of the violent past of lynching that much more shocking.
Despite his namelessness, it could be argued that the lynched man is the second character in the story. His body speaks the hidden history of lynching, the violence underlined by his shattered skeleton. His head lies separated from his body, its naked grin ironically recalls the grin that adorns the face of racist depictions of the so-called happy Negro slave.