Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me Characters

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is both the author and the main character of the book, which is written in the first person and addresses Coates’ son, Samori. Born to Paul Coates and Cheryl Waters in 1975… (read full character analysis)

Samori Coates

Samori is the son of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Kenyatta Matthews, and is 15 years old at the time the book is written. The book is addressed to him, and although he does not play… (read full character analysis)

Kenyatta Matthews

Kenyatta is the partner of Ta-Nehisi Coates and mother of Samori. She and Coates meet at Howard University. Coates mentions that Kenyatta grew up in a majority white neighborhood and that for this… (read full character analysis)

Prince Jones

Prince Jones is a classmate of Ta-Nehisi and Kenyatta at Howard. The son of Dr. Mabel Jones, he attends private schools as a boy and excels at his studies. At Howard, he is… (read full character analysis)

Malcolm X

Although Malcolm X does not play an active role in the narrative, he is undoubtedly the most important historical figure in the book. Coates discovers Malcolm X’s work as a teenager, and it is the… (read full character analysis)
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Minor Characters
Paul Coates
Paul is Ta-Nehisi’s father. Formerly a local captain of the Black Panther Party, Paul also spent time working as a research librarian at Howard University. He is a strict father who beat Ta-Nehisi, but also inspired his early intellectual development.
Cheryl Waters
Cheryl is Ta-Nehisi’s mother. She teaches her son to read when he is four and forces him to write when he gets in trouble at school, thereby inspiring his lifelong love of writing.
Dr. Mabel Jones
Dr. Mabel Jones is Prince Jones’ mother. Born in Louisiana, she receives a full scholarship to Louisiana State University, serves in the Navy, and works as a radiologist. In addition to Prince, she is also the mother of an unnamed daughter.