Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 396
Henry Shackleford is the narrator of the story. He is saved from slavery by John Brown's forces, the Pottawatomie Rifles. However, they believe that he is a girl named Henrietta. He travels with them on their various excursions and witnesses them fight in raids and make their stand at Harper's Ferry. They are unaware of his gender; only black women seem to be able to see that he's really a man. Henry is called Little Onion by John Brown after he eats the man's lucky charm -- a small onion. He stays with them for 17 years.
Henry's father worked as a barber but also preached as he worked. He was 4'8'' and very loud. He was a messy man who wore his hat too small and his clothes torn. He couldn't read and later the narrator realizes that his father only recited Bible verses that white people had spoken to him.
Dutch Henry is the man who owns Henry, his father, his aunt, and his uncle at the beginning of the novel. Henry says that he took care of him.
John Brown is an anti-slavery fighter who was put to death in 1859 after the events at Harper's Ferry. Henry paints him as a man who isn't entirely sane but is passionate about ending slavery and doing what's right. He treats Henry with kindness as Little Onion but the first time that Henry knows hunger or lacks for what he needs isn't as a slave -- it's with Brown and his men.
Frederick is John Brown's younger son. He's about 20 at the beginning of the novel. He's very tall and carries a lot of weapons.
Owen is John Brown's older son. He's shorter and stockier than his brother. He has red hair and a crippled arm.
The Reverend Martin works with John Brown. He is upset that Henry is traveling with them now. He says he is fighting to free Kansas, not steal slaves.
Ottawa Jones is another man traveling with John Brown. He's an Indian who said that Dutch used to do some work for him.
Weiner, another one of the Pottawatomie Rifles, is described as being Jewish.
Harriet Tubman is a former slave who fights for freedom for others. She gives a scarf to Henry.
Pie is described as a Mulatto woman who Henry falls in love with. She's taller than him and beautiful.
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