Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 275
Floyd “Schoolboy” Barton is the protagonist of the play, a blues musician down on his luck. The play opens with his funeral then flashes back to reveal what happened a few weeks prior. He has a hit record and hopes to make it in Chicago. However, in the past year, he has squandered the money he made for the record, cheated on his girlfriend (who then broke up with him), been deserted by the other woman, pawned his guitar to buy flowers for his mother’s grave, been arrested for vagrancy while walking home from his mother’s funeral, and spent 90 days in the workhouse.
Vera is Floyd’s ex-girlfriend who Floyd tries to reunite with. He also tries to convince her to go back to Chicago with him. She hesitates to trust Floyd, because he cheated on her.
Hedley is the antagonist of the play. A Caribbean immigrant who is older than Floyd and his friends, he rents a room from Louise and makes some money from the chickens he raises in the yard. He loathes white America and believes in spirits and ghosts.
Red Carter and Canewell are friends of Floyd, and they are also musicians. Red Carter is more laid-back, whereas Canewell is more edgy and quick-tempered. Canewell loves Vera and may have had a relationship with her when Floyd was gone.
Louise is Vera’s neighbor, a no-nonsense woman who describes herself as “48 going on 60.”
Ruby is Louise’s niece who is in town from Alabama. She comes to stay with Louise because of trouble back home. She is pregnant, and her boyfriend is in jail for killing her possible lover.