Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Elvira (Vyry) Dutton

Elvira (Vyry) Dutton, the protagonist, based on the author’s great-grandmother, a slave on a Georgia plantation who is freed at the time of the Civil War. At the age of two, she loses her mother in childbirth. The daughter of the white plantation owner, Vyry is pale-skinned, with sandy hair and gray-blue eyes. Mistreated and beaten by her father’s white wife, she develops great strength of character while retaining her capacity for compassion and for forgiveness. When her free husband is forced to leave Georgia without her and their two children, she tries to remain true to him, but at the end of the war, she marries Innis Brown. As they move westward in search of a home, she bravely endures a flood, sickness, poverty, and persecution. It is her kindness toward a pregnant white girl that brings her the support of the Greenville, Alabama, community, and a secure, permanent home for her family.

Randall Ware

Randall Ware, a free black man, a blacksmith. A young, muscular man with coal-black skin, Ware is proud of his free birth. Having inherited money from his white guardian, he has bought property in Georgia. When he is elected to the legislature after the Civil War, he is threatened by the Ku Klux Klan and forced to sell his property and leave. When he finds Vyry in Greenville, he begs her to return to him but she decides to stay with Innis.

Innis Brown

Innis Brown, Vyry’s second husband. A former field hand, Innis is uneducated but hardworking and kindhearted. A tall man with warm brown skin and brown hair, he first befriends Vyry’s two children and later saves her from marauders. After they marry, he disagrees with her only about the value of education but eventually is won over by her arguments in favor of it.

John Morris Dutton...

(The entire section is 760 words.)

List of Characters

Addie Barrow
Addie Barrow is one of Lillian Dutton’s best friends and the daughter of Smith Ambers Barrow.

Allen Crenshaw
Allen Crenshaw heads a family neighboring the Duttons and attends the dinner party on the Dutton plantation.

Aunt Sally
Aunt Sally is Hetta’s close friend and the slave cook in the Big House on the Dutton plantation.

Belle is one of Lillian Dutton’s best friends.

Ben is a newly purchased slave on the Dutton plantation.

Betty-Alice Fletcher
Betty-Alice Fletcher is a young white woman whom Vyry assists in delivering her first baby, Henry Fletcher, Jr, in Greenville, Alabama.

Big Boy
Big Boy is a field hand on the Dutton plantation. He is Caline’s husband but is sold and never heard from again.

Bob Qualls
Along with Randall Wheelright, the unkempt and heavily-built Bob Qualls has long been suspected of helping escaped slaves in central Georgia.

Brother Zeke
Brother Zeke is a strong, dark-skinned preacher on the Dutton plantation. He is literate and helps slaves escape to Canada. He is also called Zeke and Brother Ezekiel.

Caline is a childless slave working in the Big House on the Dutton plantation.

Clark Graves
Clark Graves attends the dinner party on the Dutton plantation.

The Coopers are a poor white sharecropper family in Alabama.

Ed Grimes
Ed Grimes is the white plantation overseer on the Dutton plantation. He comes from a poor family and is stocky, strong, red-headed, and quick to anger.

Fanny Crenshaw
Fanny Crenshaw is one of Lillian Dutton’s best friends and the daughter of Allen Crenshaw. She has known the junior John Dutton since childhood.

Grandpa Tom
Grandpa Tom is a slave and stable keeper. He is one of the oldest slaves on the Dutton plantation.

Granny Ticey
Granny Ticey is the midwife and doctor among the slaves on the Dutton plantation.

Harry Brown
Harry Brown is the first child born to Vyry and Innis Brown. He is Vyry’s third child.

Henry Fletcher
Henry Fletcher is the young white man married to Betty-Alice Fletcher in Greenville, Alabama.

Henry Turner
Henry Turner is a very light-skinned black man who convinces Randall War, in the early Reconstruction era, to encourage black men in Dawson, Georgia, to support Ulysses S. Grant for president and even to run for office in the Georgia State Congress.

A beautiful woman in her youth, Hetta is a dark-skinned slave and the mistress to her married white slave owner, John Morris Dutton. At age twenty-nine, she has had fifteen children, some fathered by Dutton and others by her slave husband Jake. She is also called Sis Hetta.

Hilma is one of Lillian Dutton’s best friends.

Innis Brown
Innis Brown is a “high brown” man who is freed by the Union army, saves Vyry from an attack, stays on at the...

(The entire section is 1346 words.)



Elvira Dutton, known as Vyry, is the central character of Jubilee. She is the last live-born child of the slave Hetta and her owner, John Morris Dutton. Vyry has physical characteristics, including straight hair and light skin, that allow her to pass for White once she is away from the plantation. On the plantation, of course, her mixed-race ancestry is both an advantage and a curse. She is one of the house slaves, leading a much more comfortable life than that of a field hand, but she is also treated cruelly by Salina Dutton, her father's White wife and the mistress of the plantation.

In many ways, Vyry is the moral center of the novel. In one of the final chapters, the...

(The entire section is 1550 words.)