The novel’s narrator, a fifteen-year-old girl who is quiet and withdrawn, but an excellent student. She idolizes her father, Papa, even as she fears his violent punishments, and her worldview is based on his… (read full character analysis)
Kambili’s older brother, a seventeen-year-old who is also quiet but an excellent student. Jaja feels guilty about being unable to protect Kambili and Mama from Papa. In Nsukka he discovers a passion for… (read full character analysis)
Kambili’s father, a wealthy factory owner and devout Catholic. Papa uses his vast wealth to support his friends and relatives, many charities, and his church, St. Agnes. He also publishes the newspaper the Standard… (read full character analysis)
Kambili’s mother, a quiet, submissive woman who takes care of her children but does not speak out against Papa’s violence. After Kambili’s birth she suffers several miscarriages because of Papa’s beatings. Mama… (read full character analysis)
The father of Papa and Aunty Ifeoma. He still lives in Abba and remains a traditionalist, following the beliefs of his ancestors. Papa-Nnukwu is close with Ifeoma and her children, but Papa cuts ties… (read full character analysis)
Aunty Ifeoma’s oldest child, a fifteen-year-old artist who wants to be an activist. She is very outspoken, close with Papa-Nnukwu, and criticizes Kambili for her wealth and meekness. Ultimately the two cousins grow close and understand each other better.
Aunty Ifeoma’s second child, a fourteen-year-old who seems mature beyond his years. Obiora questions everything and assumes the role of “man of the house” after his father’s death. He seems older than Jaja, despite being three years his junior, and inspires Jaja to take control of his life.
Aunty Ifeoma’s youngest child, a seven-year-old boy.
Papa’s friend and the editor of the Standard, a round and kindly man who writes dangerous stories criticizing the government. He is assassinated with a package bomb.
The white, British, conservative Catholic priest at St. Agnes. Father Benedict sees Catholicism as a rigid set of rules, like Papa does.
Ade Coker’s wife, who is distraught by his death. Papa helps her and her daughter by funding their care and buying them a new house after the explosion.
The quiet servant in Papa’s house. She provides the poison Mama uses to kill Papa.
A wealthy and popular girl in Kambili’s class. She takes the top spot from Kambili one term and is somewhat antagonistic toward Kambili, though eventually she becomes friendlier.
The only girl in Kambili’s class who treats her like a friend.
Papa’s family driver, who takes them everywhere.
The new driver who replaces Kevin after Papa’s death.
Aunty Ifeoma’s professor friend, who criticizes her move to America.
The Head of State (“Big Oga”)
A corrupt leader who takes over the Nigerian government through a military coup. Probably a stand-in for the real-life Nigerian ruler Ibrahim Babangida.
Mama’s father, a light-skinned Nigerian who was a devout Catholic.
An old man who tries to enter Papa’s compound in Abba, despite being a non-Christian.
A local ruler in Abba who visits Papa.
Aunty Ifeoma’s late husband.
A doctor in Nsukka who treats Papa-Nnukwu.
A pro-democracy activist who is murdered by the government.
A woman in Nsukka who plaits Kambili’s hair.