Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 460

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The characters of "Greenleaf" are:

Mrs. May: Mrs. May is a widow and the owner of a dairy farm. She lives with her two adult sons who consistently fall short of her expectations. Her nemesis is Mr. Greenleaf, her hired help. In the story, Mrs. May struggles to accept her lot in life and envies Mr. and Mrs. Greenleaf for their good fortune and thriving health.

She is particularly jealous that the Greenleaf twins are industrious young men who have made good marriages. The Greenleaf twins have also supposedly built a milking parlor in the Greenleaf family barn. When a bull belonging to the twins causes great damage on her farm, she demands that Mr. Greenleaf shoot the bull. However, the story concludes tragically for Mrs. May, who ends up being gored to death by the Greenleaf bull.

Scofield: Scofield is Mrs. May's eldest son. He is thirty-six years old, robust, impudent, and often mean-spirited. Scofield served two years in the army and retired with the rank of Private First Class. He is unmarried and prides himself on being the best insurance salesman in the African American community. His pride in his accomplishments is the source of Mrs. May's angst, however. She is troubled by Scofield's disagreeable temperament and irreverent attitudes.

Wesley: Wesley is Mrs. May's youngest son. She worries about him constantly. Wesley is described as a bald, thin, sickly, and nervous man, who seems obsessed with intellectual pursuits. For his part, Wesley is unmarried as well. He seems to detest life, society, and the idea of courting respectable young women.

O.T. and E.T.: The Greenleaf twins are well-mannered, illustrious, and diligent young men. They are seemingly the complete opposites of Mrs. May's sons. Both young men served during the Second World War and each managed to achieve the rank of sergeant.

Both were also wounded during the war and currently receive government pensions. In the story, O.T. and E.T.'s bull causes much damage to Mrs. May's farm. Unperturbed, the twins do nothing about reining the animal in. According to their servant, they see little value in troubling themselves about an undisciplined bull and would rather leave its handling to Mrs. May.

Mr. and Mrs. Greenfield: Mr. and Mrs. Greenfield are the parents of O.T. and E.T. Mr. Greenfield is also Mrs. May's hired help. In the story, he and Mrs. May consistently get into heated quarrels about his job performance.

As for Mrs. Greenfield, Mrs. May notes that the Greenleaf matriarch is a religious maverick of sorts. Mrs. Greenleaf engages in what she calls "prayer healing," but her religious inclinations make Mrs. May feel uncomfortable. The latter worries that her sons, Scofield and Wesley, will marry a woman like Mrs. Greenfield.

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