An American Marriage


Tayari Jones

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An American Marriage Characters

Roy Hamilton Jr.

Roy Othaniel Hamilton Jr. is the husband of Celestial Davenport, the son of Olive, and the adopted son of Big Roy. Raised in the fictional rural town of Eloe, Louisiana, Roy attends… read analysis of Roy Hamilton Jr.

Celestial Davenport

Raised in Atlanta by wealthy parents Gloria and Franklin Davenport, Celestial is married to Roy at the beginning of the novel and is also the lifelong best friend of Andre, who lives next… read analysis of Celestial Davenport


Celestial’s best friend since childhood Roy’s friend since college. Andre is shorter than Roy, with a slighter build and lighter skin. Though he has loved Celestial all his life, he is initially supportive… read analysis of Andre

Big Roy Hamilton

Big Roy is Roy’s adoptive father, having married Olive and accepted Roy as his own when he was a baby. Though Roy was given his biological father’s name, Othaniel, at birth, Big Roy… read analysis of Big Roy Hamilton

Olive Hamilton

Roy’s devoted mother, who has always been insistent on giving her child a better life than she had growing up. Seduced by Roy’s biological father, Othaniel, as a teenager, Olive was abandoned by… read analysis of Olive Hamilton
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Gloria Davenport

Celestial’s mother and the wife of Franklin. Gloria is a school administrator and a woman committed to keeping up appearances, though she doesn’t necessarily care about financial success. When she was a baby… read analysis of Gloria Davenport

Franklin Davenport

A successful scientist, father of Celestial, and husband to Gloria. He met Gloria while still married to his first wife; the two had a relationship for three years before Franklin filed for divorce… read analysis of Franklin Davenport

Walter/Othaniel/Ghetto Yoda

Roy’s biological father and his third cellmate while in prison, though the two live together for some time before Roy discovers Walter’s true identity. Walter’s nickname, Ghetto Yoda, comes from his tendency to dole… read analysis of Walter/Othaniel/Ghetto Yoda

Davina Hardrick

A former high school classmate of Roy whom he runs into at Walmart after being released from prison. Davina invites Roy to dinner, and her care for him helps Roy transition back into outside life… read analysis of Davina Hardrick

Mr. Fontenot

Roy’s high school French teacher who wanted to help him travel to France, giving him James Baldwin books and a journal to record his goals. When it became suspected that Mr. Fontenot was gay… read analysis of Mr. Fontenot
Minor Characters
Uncle Banks
Celestial’s de-facto uncle, Banks is a lawyer who acts to defend Roy in court and eventually successfully appeals his conviction. He is coupled with Aunt Sylvia, though they aren’t married.
Aunt Sylvia
The partner of Uncle Banks, Aunt Sylvia is the one who comforts Celestial when she becomes pregnant by her college professor and has her first abortion. She also teaches Celestial to make dolls as a way of dealing with her grief at terminating her pregnancy.
An employee in Celestial’s store who resembles a young Celestial. Tamar makes quilts that are also sold in the store. She is also a single mother to Jelani, whom she gave birth to upon finishing a master’s degree in art.
Andre’s father, who left Andre and Evie and fathered two children with another woman. Though he has a fraught relationship with Andre for much of his son’s life, they slowly rebuild their connection over time. Nevertheless, Andre always feels that Carlos favors his half-siblings.
Andre’s mother, Evie was left by Andre’s father, Carlos, when Andre was young and died of lupus when Andre was a teenager.
Big Roy’s neighbor who provides him friendship and support, especially after Olive’s death.