(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Ellen Chesser Kent

Ellen Chesser Kent, a farm girl and woman with an introspective mind and a poetic imagination. Although she is uneducated, she resembles the well-read Diony Hall Jarvis from the author’s The Great Meadow (1930) in her consciousness of herself as a separate identity. Hate fills her when Jonas deserts her for Sallie Lou, and she hates Hester for the lust she inspires in Jasper.

Henry Chesser

Henry Chesser, her father, a restless tenant farmer who works for various farmers. He usually is meek and timid but occasionally is roused to anger. He loves to talk.

Nellie Chesser

Nellie Chesser, her mother, a simple farm woman.

Jasper Kent

Jasper Kent, her husband, a hard worker and a fighter when angered, as when Albert steals his pigs. Accused of barn burning, he is acquitted. Unjustly accused of another burning, he is savagely beaten by masked raiders. He packs up his family to take them far away.

Jonas Prather

Jonas Prather, Ellen’s fiancé, who marries Sallie Lou Brown instead of her.

Hep Bodine

Hep Bodine,

Mrs. Bodine

Mrs. Bodine, and

Emphira Bodine

Emphira Bodine, a family on one farm where the Chessers are tenants.


Tessie, Ellen’s friend, a fortune-teller with whom Ellen wants to travel instead of living on the Bodine farm.

Joe Trent

Joe Trent, a college boy and energetic farm worker who likes Ellen but seems to look down on her.

Mr. Al

Mr. Al and

Miss Tod Wakefield

Miss Tod Wakefield, owners of the Wakefield farm, on which they raise turkeys.

Scott MacMurtrie

Scott MacMurtrie, a farmer.

Miss Cassie

Miss Cassie, his wife, a strong and independent woman who nevertheless hangs herself when Scott and Amanda run away together.

Amanda Cain

Amanda Cain, a cousin of Miss Cassie.

Dorine Wheatley

Dorine Wheatley, a merry, gay friend of Ellen.

Sebe Townley

Sebe Townley, a kind and gentle friend of Ellen who cannot forget his big ears.

Mrs. Wingate

Mrs. Wingate, an old, half-mad woman for whom Jasper sharecrops.


Albert, her son, a heavy-drinking troublemaker who steals Jasper’s pigs and sells them. Jasper thrashes him.

Joe Phillips

Joe Phillips, a farmer who offers Jasper work and a house on his farm and who later becomes interested in Ellen.

Jule Nestor

Jule Nestor, a prostitute, the memory of whom troubles Jonas’ conscience.

Hester Shuck

Hester Shuck, a wench whom Jasper visits.