Joe Turner’s Come and Gone


August Wilson

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Joe Turner’s Come and Gone can help.

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone Characters

Seth Holly

A middle-aged African-American craftsman who runs a boarding house with his wife, Bertha. Seth is a straightforward thinker, a man inclined to follow rules and work hard even when he’s receiving unfair treatment. Skilled… read analysis of Seth Holly

Bynum Walker

A “conjure man” or “rootworker” (somebody who practices folk magic and healing) who lives in Seth and Bertha’s boarding house. Bynum is a wise, existential man who believes that every person has a “song”… read analysis of Bynum Walker

Herald Loomis

A man who appears with his daughter, Zonia, at Seth and Bertha’s boarding house. Although Seth thinks he looks suspicious, he allows him to rent a room. While staying in the house, Herald… read analysis of Herald Loomis

Bertha Holly

Seth’s wife, and the co-owner of the boarding house. Although Seth doesn’t like Bynum’s folk magic, Bertha partakes in some of the old man’s rituals. Seth criticizes her for this, pointing out that… read analysis of Bertha Holly

Jeremy Furlow

A cheerful young man who lives in Seth and Bertha’s boarding house. Jeremy works for white employers as one of many people installing a new bridge. In the play’s opening scene, he comes home… read analysis of Jeremy Furlow
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Rutherford Selig

A white man who sells materials to Seth and then buys them back once he’s made them into pots, pans, or dustpans. Taking Seth’s goods, Selig goes door-to-door, selling the wares and giving Seth a… read analysis of Rutherford Selig

Mattie Campbell

A young woman who comes to Seth and Bertha’s boarding house to see Bynum so that she can ask him to bind her to Jack Carper, her lover who recently left her. Apparently… read analysis of Mattie Campbell

Molly Cunningham

An independent young woman who comes to stay in Seth and Bertha’s boarding house. Molly makes it clear that she’s happy as a single woman unencumbered by romance. In a conversation with Mattieread analysis of Molly Cunningham

Zonia Loomis

Herald and Martha Loomis’s daughter, who has been traveling from town to town with her father in the hopes of finding Martha. When Zonia and Herald arrive at the boarding house, Seth agrees to… read analysis of Zonia Loomis

Martha Loomis (Martha Pentecost)

Herald Loomis’s wife, and Zonia’s mother. After Herald was captured by Joe Turner, Martha had trouble sustaining Zonia and herself financially, so she left Zonia with her own mother and traveled north… read analysis of Martha Loomis (Martha Pentecost)

Reuben Scott

A young boy who lives next door to Seth and Bertha’s boarding house. Reuben befriends Zonia, eventually kissing her and telling her that when he grows up, he’s going to come looking for… read analysis of Reuben Scott


A young boy who has died before the beginning of the play. Eugene used to keep a collection of pigeons, which he sold one by one to Bynum for the old man’s strange rituals… read analysis of Eugene

Joe Turner

The brother of the governor of Tennessee, and based on the historical figure Joe Turney. Joe Turner captures groups of black men and forces them to work for him, essentially enslaving them. After seven years… read analysis of Joe Turner
Minor Characters
Jack Carper
Mattie Campbell’s former lover, who left her after their two children died as babies. When Mattie tries to get Bynum to bind her to Jack again, he refuses because Jack has clearly been bound to somebody else.