Denver Moore is one of the two narrators of the story, the other being Ron Hall. Denver, a black man, works as a Louisiana sharecropper for the first three decades of his life, where… read analysis of Denver Moore
Ron Hall is the story’s second narrator, Deborah’s husband, and Carson and Regan’s father. Ron grows up in a lower-middle-class family in Fort Worth, Texas, but quickly rises to wealth and status through… read analysis of Ron Hall
Deborah is Ron’s wife and Regan and Carson’s mother. Deborah meets Ron at Texas Christian University, where they date on and off until she marries him after he finishes his military service for… read analysis of Deborah Hall
Regan is Ron and Deborah’s daughter and Carson’s brother. Regan inherits her mother’s faith and practicality, spurning the nice clothes that she is offered by her parents in favor of secondhand clothes from… read analysis of Regan Hall
Granddaddy / Jack Brooks
Jack Brooks is Ron and John’s grandfather and the owner of a Texas cotton farm, where Ron and John spend their childhood summers picking cotton. Jack Brooks is described as a hardworking honorable man… read analysis of Granddaddy / Jack Brooks
Mr. Ballantine is a vile, racist old homeless man whom Denver finds on the street and discreetly begins caring for. If any homeless person ever earned their fate, Mr. Ballantine seems to be it, having… read analysis of Mr. Ballantine
Chef Jim / Jim Morgan
Chef Jim is the cook at the Union Gospel Mission, whom Ron and Deborah meet on their first visit and who becomes a friend and prayer partner to Denver during Deborah’s battle with cancer. Chef… read analysis of Chef Jim / Jim Morgan
Sister Bettie is an older woman who works at the Union Gospel Mission and becomes a spiritual mentor to Deborah and Mary Ellen. Sister Bettie is beloved by the homeless community, having sold all… read analysis of Sister Bettie
Mary Ellen Davenport
Mary Ellen is Allen’s wife Deborah’s friend who begins volunteering with her at the mission and is present with her throughout her battle with cancer. When Mary Ellen first meets Deborah, she is… read analysis of Mary Ellen Davenport
Bobby is the white son of the Man who befriends Denver while Denver lives with Aunt Etha and Uncle James. Bobby is the single character completely unfazed by racism and discrimination, boldly approaching Denver… read analysis of Bobby
Big Mama is Denver and Thurman’s grandmother who raises them in their early years. Though Big Mama’s description is scant, she is Denver’s best friend as a young child and he loves doing special… read analysis of Big Mama
Uncle James is Denver and Thurman’s uncle and Aunt Etha’s husband, who raises the boys after BB’s murder. Uncle James is a sharecropper and seems to introduce Denver to the sharecropping life… read analysis of Uncle James
Aunt Etha is Uncle James’s wife and Denver and Thurman’s aunt, who raises the brothers after BB’s murder. Aunt Etha is a sharp, resourceful woman, able to make a meal out of… read analysis of Aunt Etha
Thurman Moore is Denver’s brother; with whom he spends the first ten to twelve year of his life. Despite the fact that Thurman is with Denver as he moves from place to place, Thurman… read analysis of Thurman Moore
BB is Denver and Thurman’s father who takes them in after Big Mama dies. BB seems to be a decent father, but he is also a womanizer who has affairs with multiple married women… read analysis of BB
Don Shisler is the manager of the Union Gospel Mission. Although Don plays a minor role in the story, he is the first person to meet Denver and convince him to sleep at the mission… read analysis of Don Shisler
PawPaw is Big Mama’s husband and Denver and Thurman’s grandfather, who also helps to raise them. Although PawPaw is out of the house when Big Mama dies in the fire, after her death, he never appears in the narrative again.
Hershalee is Denver’s sister with whom he lives as a teenager. Although she is his oldest surviving family member, living until 2000, she is seldom mentioned.
Auntie is Denver’s aunt who occasionally lives with Hershalee. Though she is seldom mentioned, Denver is afraid of her because she is a mystic healer and seems to possess some manner of supernatural power.
A family friend who accompanies Denver to visit Mr. Ballantine. Scott’s single role in the narrative is to make the brief point that it is egotistical to assume that one knows what is best for the poor or downtrodden better than they themselves do.
Ron and John’s grandmother and Jack Brook’s wife.
Mary Ellen’s husband.
Ron's business partner.