A Photograph: Lovers in Motion Characters

Ntozake Shange

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Sean David

Sean David, a struggling artist in San Francisco who dreams of becoming a famous photographer. He is arrogant, chauvinistic, and abusive. Before Sean’s transformation, he manipulates three lovers. He tells one of his lovers that he has known only welfare, mean white folks, heroine, and whores. Although he does not deliberately set these women against one another, he does nothing to conceal his affairs. In fact, he boasts that there will always be several lovers in his life and that his sexual partners must accept his outlook on life. Sean blames his coarseness and pessimism on his father, who loved a monkey more than he cared for his son and who modeled behavior for Sean by sexually, verbally, and physically abusing women. Consequently, Sean abuses his three lovers in much the same way, by requiring sex on demand, abusing them physically, and throwing them out of his apartment when he becomes bored or wants to work. Later in the play, Sean discovers himself with the help of one of his lovers. He learns to love himself and to love someone else unselfishly. Sean metamorphoses into a determined man who truly wants to capture the unnoticed or unheralded lives of ordinary black people and who wants to share his life with the woman he loves.


Michael, one of Sean’s lovers, a professional dancer who teaches him how to love. She is very nurturing and patient with Sean, even when he shouts obscenities at her and wrestles her to the floor because she tells him that she is leaving. At one point, she tells Sean that she is not jealous and will never become possessive. She tells him that all she asks of him is that he not ask her to sleep with him...

(The entire section is 698 words.)