Octavia E. Butler

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Dana (Edana) Franklin

The protagonist and narrator of the novel, Dana is a black woman from 1979 California who gets pulled back in time to Antebellum Maryland to save the life of her white ancestor, Rufus Weylinread analysis of Dana (Edana) Franklin

Kevin Franklin

Dana’s husband, a white man with eerily pale eyes. Kevin, like Dana, is a writer, and the two bond over their feelings of isolation and detachment from the other people in their machinery office… read analysis of Kevin Franklin

Rufus Weylin

A white, red-headed slave owner in Antebellum Maryland, and Dana’s ancestor. Rufus is a product of his time and culture, becoming harsher, more selfish, and crueler as the years go by and he is… read analysis of Rufus Weylin

Alice Jackson (Greenwood)

Though born a free black woman, Alice becomes a slave of the Weylin estate after the arrest of her first husband, Isaac Jackson. Rufus retains an obsessive love for Alice since childhood and forces… read analysis of Alice Jackson (Greenwood)


The cook of the Weylin family, who chooses to stay a slave in order to ensure the safety of her deaf, mute daughter Carrie. Sarah and Dana become friends and Dana learns to respect… read analysis of Sarah
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Tom Weylin

Rufus’ father. Tom is a harsh master to his slaves, but Dana notes that Tom is not an entirely cruel man. Tom does what he thinks is right for a man of his standing… read analysis of Tom Weylin

Margaret Weylin

Tom Weylin’s wife and Rufus’s mother, a hysterical and high-strung woman who relieves her boredom and sense of uselessness by making the lives of her house slaves miserable. She particularly hates Dana due… read analysis of Margaret Weylin


A slave on the Weylin estate, Nigel is the personal servant to Rufus and enjoys some of the advantages of living close to white people. Nigel does what he wishes despite the threat of whippingsread analysis of Nigel


A slave on the Weylin estate, Carrie is Sarah’s daughter and the only child Sarah has left (as the others have been sold). Carrie is deaf and mute, but finds other ways to assert… read analysis of Carrie

Alice’s Mother

Alice’s mother is a free black woman, legally making Alice free as well. Alice’s mother teaches Alice to be strong, but is unable to protect her daughter from the harsh reality of life for all… read analysis of Alice’s Mother
Minor Characters
Hagar Weylin
Alice and Rufus’s youngest child, and Dana’s great-grandmother.
Sam Jones
A field hand at the Weylin Estate who is sold by Rufus after Sam expresses an interest in Dana.
Isaac Jackson
Alice’s husband, who is tortured and sold into slavery in Mississippi when he and Alice are caught trying to run away.
A slave on the Weylin Estate, and Nigel’s father.
A slave of the Weylin estate, who is sexually abused by Tom Weylin.
Jake Edwards
A cousin of Rufus Weylin, who works as the overseer on the estate and is harsh and cruel to the slaves.
A slave on the Weylin estate who betrays Dana to try to ensure her own safety. Liza is then ostracized by the other slaves, which shows the loyalty of the slave family on the plantation.
Joseph (Joe) Weylin
The young son of Rufus and Alice, who looks like a darker version of Rufus.
Evan Fowler
The overseer that takes over from Jake Edwards. Evan is even crueler to the slaves than Jake was, wielding the whip with absolutely no regard for the slaves’ humanity.
The infant son of Nigel and Carrie, born into slavery.
Old Mary
A slave on the Weylin plantation who used to know healing and herbs, but now is old and has lost her memory.
A worker at Dana’s temp agency who is prejudiced against Kevin and Dana’s interracial relationship.