The characters of Maud Martha are as follows:
Maud Martha Brown is the protagonist of the 34 vignettes in the book. She likes candy buttons, books, and dandelions. Her greatest desire in life is to be cherished and accepted.
Helen Brown is Maud Martha's sister who revels in her lighter skin. Helen is two years Maud's senior. She is described as very pretty, dainty, and accomplished. Helen is extremely popular with the boys. Maud often envies the attention Helen receives from everyone, from their parents to would-be suitors. Despite her beauty, however, Helen is shallow, conceited, and snobbish. She harbors contempt for Maud because the latter has a difficult time getting a boyfriend.
Harry Brown is Maud Martha's only brother.
Abraham Brown is Maud Martha's father. He is a janitor. It has always been Maud's private grief that Abraham prefers Helen to her. For his part, Abraham thinks of Helen as the perfect daughter.
Belva Brown is Maud Martha's mother, with whom she has a complex relationship.
Ernestine Brown is Maud and Helen's grandmother. In the chapter titled "Death of Grandmother," Maud relates the terrible suffering Ernestine endures in the last moments of her life.
Tim is Maud Martha's uncle. Tim was married to Maud's paternal aunt, Nannie. In the chapter titled "Tim," Maud laments that she never really knew her Uncle Tim. In life, she knew only superficial facts about him. After Uncle Tim's death, Maud wonders if one can ever really know another person.
Russell is Maud Martha's first suitor. He is good-looking, pleasant, and fun to be around.
Paul Phillips is Maud Martha's husband. He is described in the chapter "Low Yellow." In that chapter, Maud reveals that Paul would never describe her as "pretty." To a man like Paul, "pretty" would be "a little cream-colored thing with curly hair" or a "little curly-haired thing the color of cocoa with a lot of milk in it." Paul does not consider himself a handsome man, proclaiming that he has "real Negro features." Maud describes Paul as a man who enjoys a glittering lifestyle, "beautiful yellow girls," natural hair, nice clothes, and cars.
Mrs. Cray is Maud Martha's neighbor. She attends Maud when the latter gives birth to Paulette.
Paulette Phillips is Maud and Paul's daughter.
Oberto is one of Maud Martha's neighbors. Oberto owns a grocery store. He is married to Marie, a woman who is focused on her looks. In the chapter "Kitchenette Folks," the elegant Marie is contrasted with Viota, Nathalia, and Wilma, homely women who excel at homemaking but fall short in capturing the attention of their husbands.
Eugena Banks is Maud Martha's white neighbor who is married to a West Indian man.
Clement Lewy is a little boy who lives in Maud's building.
Other neighbors of Maud Martha include the following: Richard (a truck driver), Binnie (a young man of twenty), Mrs. Teenie Thompson (a former housemaid), Mr. and Mrs. Whitestripe (a happily married couple), Maryginia Washington (an almost 70-year-old spinster), and Josephine Snow (a woman of means).
Sonia Johnson is the proprietor of a salon Maud frequents. Sonia does not object when Miss Ingram, a saleswoman, uses a racial epithet during their interaction.
Mrs. Burns-Cooper is a white woman who hires Maud Martha as a maid. Maud eventually leaves Mrs. Burns-Cooper's employ.
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...
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- Critical Essays