A black parson, and one of the novel’s protagonists. Stephen is a religious man who has spent his entire life in his rural community, for which he cares very deeply. He is humble, devout, and… read analysis of Stephen Kumalo
– A white farmer, and the novel’s other protagonist. James is the father of Arthur, murdered by Stephen Kumalo’s son Absalom. He struggles with the fact that, like Stephen, he does not… read analysis of James Jarvis
– Stephen Kumalo’s son. Absalom is led astray by Johannesburg and the people with whom he associated, leading to his accidental murder of Arthur Jarvis during a botched robbery. Absalom is found guilty of… read analysis of Absalom Kumalo
– The man murdered by Absalom Kumalo. The novel never shows Arthur while he is alive, but portrays his character through his many papers and correspondences read by Arthur’s father, James. He was… read analysis of Arthur Jarvis
Another minister at Mission House. Like Msimangu, Father Vincent helps Stephen greatly, encouraging him to pray and rest after the devastating news about Absalom’s crime.
Mary Jarvis’s father. He rails on and on about how the country’s ills are the fault of the “natives.”
A young man sent by James Jarvis to help Stephen’s community build a dam and improve their agriculture. He admires James, but also talks to Stephen about the unfairness of how South Africa’s land has been divided among whites and blacks.
James Jarvis’s wife. She is devastated by her son’s death. Already sickly, she dies after returning from Johannesburg.
Stephen Kumalo’s wife. She is a patient and loving woman who suffers greatly, but stoically.
The lawyer who takes on Absalom Kumalo’s case. He does so free of charge.
John Kumalo’s son and Absalom’s cousin. He is one the accomplices with Absalom when Arthur Jarvis is shot and killed. He lies about his presence at the murder scene and is acquitted.
The late Arthur Jarvis’s wife, and James Jarvis’s daughter-in-law. She takes in her father-in-law after her mother-in-law, Margaret Jarvis, passes away.
Gertrude’s young son, who listens to Stephen’s stories.