Zami: A New Spelling of My Name Characters
The main characters in Zami: A New Spelling of My Name include Audre Lorde, Linda Lorde, and Muriel.
- Audre Lorde is a Black American lesbian poet and the author of Zami, in which she describes her development from an isolated child into a confident artist and individual.
- Linda Lorde is Audre Lorde’s mother, who emigrated to New York from Carriacou and with whom Lorde has a difficult relationship.
- Muriel is a fellow poet who struggles with mental illness and with whom Lorde falls in love, remaining with her for two years.
Last Updated on December 15, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1306
Audre Lorde is the author, narrator, and protagonist. She is a Black lesbian poet who, as a child, is legally blind and feels as isolated as all these categories would suggest her to be. Audre is always an outsider, and the book tells the story of her progressing from a lonely child, with an emotionally distant family and no friends, to a confident artist who uses the trauma of her life in her work. Audre has a tumultuous life in terms of work, study, and, particularly, relationships with other women, in which she experiences frequent extremes of joy and pain.
Linda Lorde is Audre’s mother, a strong, dignified, resilient woman who works hard and is devoted to her family. Despite her care in bringing up her children, Linda has a strained relationship with Audre, and they have little contact after Audre leaves home. This is largely because Linda is a harsh disciplinarian who does not understand her daughter and forces her to conform to what she believes a good daughter ought to be. Linda’s stubborn character is shaped by the hard life she leads, but there are times, particularly when she is beside the sea, when she becomes nostalgic and thoughtful, losing herself in dreams of her childhood in Carriacou.
Byron Lorde is a quiet, hardworking man who does not spend much time with his children. He is unusual for a man of his time in treating his wife, Linda, as an equal partner in his marriage, always consulting her before taking any action. Like Linda, he ignores the racism around him as much as he can.
Phyllis is the eldest of the three Lorde sisters. She is more placid than Helen and tries to make peace in the family, but she generally ignores Audre.
Helen is very close to Phyllis and generally finds Audre annoying, refusing to allow her to join in their storytelling and other shared activities. Though both her elder sisters are cold and distant toward Audre, Helen is the more actively hostile of the two.
Mrs. Augusta Baker
Mrs. Baker is the kindly librarian who teaches Audre to read and inculcates in her a passion for books, despite her limited ability to see.
Sister Mary of Perpetual Help
Sister Mary is a large white woman who is a nun, a Sister of the Blessed Sacrament, whom the author later realizes can only have been about eighteen. She is Audre’s first grade teacher and a stern disciplinarian who beats Audre and makes her wear a dunce’s cap.
The Comic Book Storekeeper
The comic book storekeeper is a fat man who abuses Audre, running his hands over her body as he lifts her up to look at the comic books. He only does this when her sisters are some distance away.
Sister Blanche is a strict teacher with a hostile attitude to Audre and strong racial prejudices. She is one of the Sisters of Charity at St. Catherine’s School and tells Audre that it is her Christian duty to inform her that Black people smell different from white people.
Monsignor John J. Brady
Father Brady is a parish priest and the head of St. Catherine’s School. He is a racist and a child molester, though he only abuses the white girls, putting his hands inside their uniforms as they sit in his lap.
Ann Archdeacon is a pretty white classmate of...
(The entire section contains 1306 words.)
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