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, 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, 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.)