Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 373
The protagonist in "Revelation" is Ruby Turpin. Ruby is a middle-class, land-owning white woman who feels that she is God-fearing and sets herself above other people in terms of how righteous she is. Ruby often mentally thanks God that she has not been made "white trash" or "a n****r." She feels that many white people are unclean, worse even than the black people who work for her. She seems to long for a time when black people were enslaved to pick cotton; she does not think machines, like the cotton gin, do as good a job. In the doctor's waiting room, she passes judgement on everyone else she sees and is then horrified to have her opinions challenged. She is not afraid to say out loud how she feels about black people and poor people. Until the end of the story, she thinks of herself as righteous and justified.
Claud is Ruby's husband, a quiet man who does not speak much. He seems a loving husband to Ruby. In the story, he has been kicked by a cow and injured. After Ruby has been insulted by Mary Grace, she seeks reassurance that Claud still thinks well of her, asking for a kiss.
Mary Grace is a teenage girl with acne who is reading a book in the waiting room. She doesn't speak until she has had enough of listening to Ruby's bigotry, at which point she throws a book at Ruby and calls her "a hog from hell." Mary Grace is attending Wellesley College.
Also in the waiting room at the doctor's surgery are the following characters: a stylish lady, of whom Mrs Turpin approves; two "white trash" women, one older and one younger, and their small child (Mrs Turpin disapproves of all of them, thinking them unclean); a "stringy" older man; and Anne Grace's mother. Mrs. Turpin judges all these people by the quality of their shoes.
A doctor, a nurse, and a black working boy also appear in the doctor's waiting room, but little is said about them. At the end of the story, we also meet several of Mrs. Turpin's black servants, who express horror at hearing of how she has been treated and say that she is "sweet."
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