Maud Martha Brown is a sensitive, intelligent, and poetic child of seven at the start of the novel. As the novel is told from her point of view, readers see her grow, both literally into a young woman, a mother, and an adult and also in knowledge of herself and the world that she inhabits. By the end of the novel, Maud Martha has matured in many ways; she has learned to accept the limitations of her world that she cannot change, but she also has learned to create change where it is possible, and she knows her own abilities both to accept and to alter, depending on circumstances. She is a strong, compassionate, and in many ways wise woman by the end of the novel, as she contemplates the coming arrival of her second child.
Helen Brown, Maud Martha’s lighter-skinned sister, appears as something of an antagonist in the early part of the novel, although often through no fault of her own. Helen is the preferred child, even by Maud’s beloved father, and it is only as an adult that Maud can begin to appreciate Helen’s tough-mindedness.
Harry Brown, Maud Martha’s only brother, is a minor but important character. He is the male element in her young life, separate and unequal.
Belva Brown, Maud Martha’s mother, plays a more important part in the novel than does her father, although the father’s influence in some ways is greater. She is a realistic character, both heroic and, at times, silly. Her behavior during the birth of her...
(The entire section is 452 words.)