Effia is the daughter of Cobbe Otcher and Maame. Growing up in a Fante village on the Gold Coast, Effia does not know that she is Maame’s daughter. She is raised by Cobbe’s wife… read analysis of Effia
Esi is Maame and Big Man’s daughter and Effia’s half-sister. Esi grows up in an Asante village and sees how her village profits from capturing and selling slaves. She doesn’t think much about… read analysis of Esi
Quey is the son of James Collins and Effia. As a biracial man, Quey doesn’t feel like he fits in with any culture. He is constantly afraid of appearing weak and disappointing his father… read analysis of Quey
Ness is the daughter of Esi and a British soldier, who raped Esi while she was imprisoned in the Cape Coast Castle’s dungeon. Soon after Esi arrives in America, Ness is born, and she spends… read analysis of Ness
Kojo / Jo
Kojo is Sam and Ness’s son. He escapes the plantation with Ma Aku as a baby, and Ma Aku brings him to freedom in the North, where she raises him as an adopted son… read analysis of Kojo / Jo
Abena is James and Akosua’s daughter. Abena is resentful of her father’s bad luck, particularly because it means that no one wants to marry her. She is in love with Ohene Nyarko, but… read analysis of Abena
H is Jo and Anna’s son. After being kidnapped and sold into slavery while pregnant, Anna kills herself. H is born when his master cuts him out of Anna’s stomach. H works on a… read analysis of H
Akua / Crazy Woman
Akua is Abena and Ohene’s daughter. When Abena turned to the Church for help when Ohene would not marry her, the Missionary attempted to baptize her but drowned her by mistake. Thus, the Missionary… read analysis of Akua / Crazy Woman
Willie is H and Ethe’s daughter. Willie grows up in Pratt City and marries Robert Clifton when she is very young. After the birth of her son Carson, Willie and Robert move up… read analysis of Willie
Yaw is Akua and Asamoah’s only son. He is resentful of his mother, whose actions have left a permanent scar on his face—in her madness, she set the family’s hut on fire, killing… read analysis of Yaw
Carson / Sonny
Carson is Robert Clifton and Willie’s son. Carson is initially resentful of Willie because she gives him no information about his father, who split up with Willie after violating her in a jazz club… read analysis of Carson / Sonny
Marjorie is Yaw and Esther’s daughter and the final descendant of Effia in the novel. Though born in Ghana, she grows up in Alabama and feels she doesn’t fit in with either the white… read analysis of Marjorie
Marcus is Sonny and Amani’s son and the final descendant of Esi in the novel. He grows up in Harlem with Sonny and his grandmother, Willie. Marcus is completing a Ph.D. in Stanford… read analysis of Marcus
James Collins is the white governor of the Cape Coast Castle at the beginning of the novel, Effia’s husband, and Quey’s father. He has a lot of affection for Effia but also seems… read analysis of James Collins
Maame is Esi and Effia’s biological mother. She had been a house girl for Cobbe Otcher when he raped her, making her pregnant with Effia. However, the night she gave birth to Effia, a… read analysis of Maame
Baaba is Cobbe Otcher’s wife, Fiifi’s mother, and Effia’s adoptive mother. Resentful of having to take care of a daughter that is not her own, Baaba is extremely cruel to Effia and… read analysis of Baaba
Cobbe is Effia and Fiifi’s father and Baaba’s husband. He is a good father to Effia, even while Baaba is cruel. However, when Cobbe is on his deathbed, Effia realizes that he had… read analysis of Cobbe Otcher
At the beginning of the novel, Abeeku is the next in line as chief of the Fante village where Effia, Cobbe, Baaba, and Fiifi live. Abeeku is a great warrior. Initially he… read analysis of Abeeku Badu
Abronoma, which means “Little Dove,” is Maame’s house girl who had been captured from another village. Esi feels bad for the girl and tries to help by sending word of Abronoma’s location to her father. This kind act leads to Esi’s own capture by the warriors in Abronoma’s village.
Akosua is a poor young Asante girl with whom James falls in love. When she makes him see how evil the slave trade is, James runs away from his family to live with her. Together, the two have a daughter, Abena.
Robert is Willie’s first husband and Carson’s father. He has very light skin, which helps him get jobs in Harlem, but which also makes it difficult for him when people assume that he is white.
Amani is a jazz singer who introduces Sonny to dope, spurring his drug addiction. Later, she and Sonny have a child together, Marcus.
Ma Aku is a woman who tries to help Sam, Ness and Kojo escape their plantation. When Ma Aku is able to escape to the North with just Kojo (Sam and Ness are caught), she raises him as her own son.
A white missionary who accidentally kills Abena when he tries to baptize her. He raises Abena’s daughter, Akua, in the church.
The man Abena is in love with. She has a daughter, Akua, with him, even though he refuses to marry her.
Ness’s husband and Kojo’s father. He works with Ness on the plantation she calls “Hell.” He is hanged when they try to escape.
Quey’s wife and James’s mother. She is the captured daughter of an Asante king.
James’s first wife and the daughter of Abeeku Badu’s successor.
Kwame Asare / Big Man
Esi’s father and Maame’s husband. Big Man is a warrior for an Asante village.
Kojo’s wife and Agnes’ mother who is kidnapped and sold into slavery when she is pregnant with H. She kills herself before she gives birth, and the master has to cut H out of her stomach.
Lil Joe / Joe Turner
Joecy’s son who helps H by writing a letter for him. Robert and Willie stay with him when they move up to Harlem.
A friend of Quey who is the son of the chief of another Fante village. Quey becomes attracted to him as they grow up together, though Quey hides his desires and marries a woman.
Effia’s half-brother and Cobbe and Baaba’s son. He grows up to be a strong warrior and Abeeku’s right-hand man.
Yaw’s house girl, who helps him reconcile with his mother, Akua. She and Yaw eventually marry and have a daughter, Marjorie, who is Effia’s last descendant in the novel.
Akua's husband and Yaw's father. He loses a leg in the wars with the British.
A white boy in Marjorie’s class who goes on a few dates with her, until his dad and the school disapprove of their relationship.
Marjorie’s English teacher who holds a black cultural assembly and inspires her to write a poem about her heritage.
Yaw’s friend who also teaches at the same high school.
Another girl in Effia’s village who marries a British officer.
Another woman who is captured by the British, whom Esi befriends.
Another slave at Thomas Allan Stockham’s planation and Pinky’s father.
A little girl who befriends Ness at Thomas Allan Stockham’s plantation. She is TimTam’s daughter.
A house slave at Thomas Allan Stockham’s planation.
Thomas Allan Stockham
The master of the plantation Ness works on.
The master of the plantation that Ness and Sam work on before Ness is sold to Thomas Allan Stockham.
Willie’s second husband and Josephine’s father. He is a poet.
Carson’s half-sister and Willie and Eli’s daughter.
A friend of Jo’s who also works on boats in Baltimore.
A white abolitionist in Baltimore who Anna works for and who helps Kojo.
A small child in Akua’s village who takes Yaw in.
Akua’s mother-in-law and Asamoah’s mother.
The eldest of Akua and Asamoah’s daughters.
Akua and Asamoah’s youngest daughter.
Marcus’s friend in grad school.
H’s wife and Willie’s mother.
A friend of H’s who works in the mines. His son is Lil Joe.
A white man who works in the mines with H.
Jo and Anna’s oldest daughter and H’s sister.