An American Marriage

by

Tayari Jones

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Big Roy Hamilton Character Analysis

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 changed his name to Roy upon adopting him. Big Roy is extremely supportive of Roy and welcoming to Celestial, despite Olive’s skepticism of the latter. He also serves as a model of marital dedication in his relationship with Olive and is devastated when she dies of lung cancer while Roy is in prison.

Big Roy Hamilton Quotes in An American Marriage

The An American Marriage quotes below are all either spoken by Big Roy Hamilton or refer to Big Roy Hamilton . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Algonquin edition of An American Marriage published in 2018.
Part 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

But that was when we thought incarceration had something to do with being guilty or at least being stupid.

Related Characters: Roy Hamilton Jr. (speaker), Big Roy Hamilton
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire An American Marriage LitChart as a printable PDF.
An American Marriage PDF

Big Roy Hamilton Character Timeline in An American Marriage

The timeline below shows where the character Big Roy Hamilton appears in An American Marriage. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...accusing him of cheating on her. After breaking up, Roy went to visit his parents, Big Roy and Olive, in Eloe. There, Olive told him that his girlfriend was probably already with... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...until Roy returns to help her out. After ushering her inside, Roy hangs back with Big Roy who tells him that the dynamic between Celestial, Roy and Olive is a “triangle.” Roy... (full context)
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...Celestial steps up to defend herself, saying the dolls are intricately made works of art. Big Roy says perhaps they need to see one in person and Celestial goes to the car... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
After dinner, Big Roy offers to bring their bags into the house, but Roy says he’s booked them a... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...they sit near the bank of the stream, Roy tells her about fishing here with Big Roy when he was younger. He says that the cars passing on the bridge overhead sound... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
When Celestial asks if his father was working at the time, Roy reveals that Big Roy is not his biological father. Instead, he adopted Roy when he was a baby and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...how Celestial felt upon learning that Roy hadn’t told her about his being adopted by Big Roy . (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
...to admit that life in prison improved once Walter became his cellmate. He says while Big Roy will always be his father, Walter is his “old man” while in prison. He asks... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
...of her, but he needs to know Celestial’s opinion of the situation because he believes Big Roy is withholding information from him. (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
...she was never given a chance to fully occupy the role. After seeing the way Big Roy behaved at Olive’s funeral, Celestial saw how weak her connection with Roy was. They aren’t... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
When Roy is released, Big Roy meets him in the parking lot. As a young man, Big Roy had told Roy... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Big Roy tells Roy that he’s early, having been released five days ahead of schedule, and Roy... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Big Roy says he hasn’t seen Celestial since she attended Olive’s funeral with Andre. Roy mentions that... (full context)
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
...is the same as before Roy went into jail. The house smells freshly cleaned and Big Roy tells Roy that the ladies from church came to prepare the house for his homecoming.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
...Sunday before Olive’s funeral, Andre goes to visit Roy in prison while Celestial stays with Big Roy . There, Roy asks Andre to take his place carrying his mother’s casket at the... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
...funeral. In the limo on the way to the cemetery, Celestial takes Andre’s hand, prompting Big Roy to ask that they not do that. He says he loved Olive in ways they... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
...she hasn’t thought about or touched another man since Roy was put in jail, seeing Big Roy ’s behavior made her realize she doesn’t know what it means to be truly committed... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...a book by James Baldwin. Three things prevented Roy from going on the trip, however: Big Roy thought him being the only black kid in the group could cause trouble, the cost... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...about thirty-six hours at Davina’s house, finally leaving when she has to go to work. Big Roy waits for his son on the front porch, asking if he’s alive when he finally... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Andre calls Big Roy ’s house and is surprised when Roy answers. When he says, “We weren’t expecting you... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Roy cleans up and changes his clothes with the intention of going to Atlanta. Big Roy tells his son he can take his car, since he can get rides from his... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Roy tells Big Roy about trading goods in prison. In an effort to get six dollars for a pear,... (full context)
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Big Roy reminds Roy about the account in his name that Olive opened when he was born... (full context)
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Big Roy cuts his son’s hair. He tells Roy about courting his mother, and how ornery Roy... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
...moment Roy thinks it refers to him before realizing it is the future marker for Big Roy . Roy weeps on Olive’s grave, like he did the day he received his sentence... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Andre has trouble finding the house without Big Roy ’s car parked out front. When he finally does, Big Roy invites him in to... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Andre asks after Roy, and Big Roy says he’s been doing as well as can be expected. Andre asks why Roy left... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
The phone rings and Andre asks about it being disconnected. Big Roy says he lied, and mocks Andre for thinking he looks like someone who can’t pay... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
...picks him up. He thinks about whether this is about how old he was when Big Roy made him his junior. Celestial returns with champagne flutes, and Celestial and Tamar talk about... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Andre sleeps on the couch and Big Roy on his recliner chair, as if Andre needs to be watched to prevent him escaping... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
In the morning, Big Roy tells Andre that Andre wants Celestial, but he doesn’t need her like Roy does. Big... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 9
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...right woman for him, however, and requests that he and Celestial visit so she and Big Roy can meet her before he makes his decision. She tells him she’s had a dream... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 11
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Roy asks if Celestial has anything else to say. She thinks about Big Roy at Olive’s funeral, and how that taught her about what true love was. Roy asks... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 13
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...house for dinner. Roy tells Celestial how Christmas is his favorite holiday. As a child Big Roy would receive only an apple, and so, when Roy was young, every Christmas morning he... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...and Roy feels like they might actually be able to make up. He thinks about Big Roy , all alone on this day. Roy asks why Celestial told Olive about Walter being... (full context)
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
While Celestial showers, Roy calls his father. He thinks Big Roy sounds sad, but his father says he just has some indigestion from eating a plate... (full context)
Epilogue
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
...goes to the spot under the bridge each morning to pray and that he and Big Roy have gone into business as barbers. He prays that she will find peace, something “you... (full context)