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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Ruby Turpin

The protagonist in "Revelation" is Ruby Turpin. Mrs. Turpin 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. Mrs. Turpin often mentally thanks God that she has not been made "white trash" or "a n****r." She feels that many white people are unclean, deeming them worse even than the Back 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 of a job. In the doctor's waiting room, she passes judgment 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 Turpin

Claud is Ruby's husband, a quiet man who does not speak much. He seems a loving husband to Mrs. Turpin. In the story, he has been kicked by a cow and injured, and this is why the pair is in the doctor’s office in the first place. After Mrs. Turpin has been insulted by Mary Grace, she seeks reassurance that Claud still thinks well of her, asking for a kiss.

Mary Grace

Mary Grace is a teenage girl with acne who is reading a book, titled Human Development, in the waiting room. She is also described as being fat. Her mother claims she is quite intelligent and studious, attending Wellesley College. She doesn't speak until she has had enough of listening to Mrs. Turpin’s bigotry, at which point she throws a book at Mrs. Turpin and calls her "a hog from hell." After the book, she tries to strangle Mrs. Turpin. She is promptly sedated and taken away in an ambulance after the incident.

The Stylish Woman

Mrs. Turpin approves of a fellow middle-class white woman in the waiting room. She is referred to as “the stylish woman.” She has striking blue eyes, and this is how Mrs. Turpin decides that she is Mary Grace’s mother. The woman’s eyes “sparkled pleasantly” but Mary Grace’s eyes “appeared alternately to smolder and to blaze.” The woman is embarrassed by her daughter’s behavior, but breaks down after Mary Grace’s episode. 

Inhabitants of the Waiting Room

Also in the waiting room at the doctor's surgery are the following characters: two "white trash" women, one older and one younger, and their small child (Mrs Turpin disapproves of all of them, thinking them unclean); and a "stringy" older man. 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. 

The Black Servants 

At the end of the story, we also meet several of Mrs. Turpin's Black servants, who express horror at hearing how she has been treated and say that she is "sweet." Mrs. Turpin does not believe their flattery, thinking they are merely trying to appease her.

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