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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Cross Damon

Cross is a married black postal worker. He lives a middle-class life in Chicago with his family. When many believe he dies in a subway accident, he abandon his job, girlfriend, and family. Cross murders a man who discovers he is still alive. He travels to New York and becomes a Communist Party member under a new name. He kills a crooked landlord, Langley Herndon, and then kills Gil Blount, the local head of the Communist Party. Following this murder, Cross has an affair with Blount’s widow. He is finally killed by other members of the Communist Party.

Gladys Damon

Gladys is Cross's wife and mother of their three children. She does not understand that her husband feels alienated.

Dorothy Powers

Dorothy or "Dot" Powers is a fifteen-year-old girl who Cross has gotten pregnant. He also abandons her when he adopts his new identity.

Ely Houston

Ely is the New York City district attorney. Ely and Cross talk at length and agree on many things. Ely realizes Cross is guilty, but she allows his lonely, alienated life to be his punishment.

Gilbert Blount

Gilbert or "Gil" Blount is the local head of the Communist Party. He is selfish, power-hungry, and manipulative—a cynical user of those who believe.

Eva Blount

Eva is Gil’s wife. Good-natured and innocent, she sees Cross as similar to her, and they have an affair after her husband’s death. When she finds Cross is the murderer, she kills herself.

Jack Hilton

Jack is one of Gil’s followers in the Communist Party. He is equally manipulative and cynical. Cross kills him as well as Gil.

Bob Hunter

Bob is an idealistic railroad porter and organizer for the Communist Party.

Langley Herndon

Langley is a greedy slumlord—a capitalist version of Gil Blount.

Joe Thomas

Joe is a a fellow black postal worker killed by Cross when he is recognized after his supposed death.

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