If You Come Softly Characters
by Jacqueline Woodson

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If You Come Softly Characters

Woodson focuses on two main characters in her novel: Elisha Eisen (Ellie) and Jeremiah Roselind (Miah). In the prologue, Ellie is a senior in high school; however, the remainder of the novel is interspersed with Ellie’s memories of herself as a 15-year-old teen girl experiencing love for the first time with Miah, a teen boy. The reader soon discovers that Ellie is white and Jewish while Miah is black, both of which are critical details to the central themes of love and racism.

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Subsequently, supporting characters play influential roles in both Ellie and Miah's lives. Ellie has four older siblings along with her mother, Marion. Marion has abandoned her twice—Ellie's four siblings helped care for her the first time. She is left to fend for herself, however, the second time around, as her siblings are gone and her physician father is rarely home. Of course, these traumatic experiences leave Ellie with emotional scars. Similarly, Miah’s emotional state is affected greatly by his parents’ divorce. His father is a famous film maker and his mother a well-respected author. His emotional and mental states are also affected by the way he must navigate race in his daily life.

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Miah and Ellie are two young characters who must come to terms with their unexpected love for each other. Most of the novel’s plot conflicts are internal, as the two characters struggle with the perception that the people in their lives will react badly to their relationship. To readers, it is not certain that this negative reaction will ever actually occur, and when Miah and Ellie do give each other a chance, it seems their families and acquaintances are not upset with their choice, but simply curious. The book is about Miah and Ellie getting ready to face...

(The entire section is 460 words.)