The novel's heroine, Janie is both the narrator and protagonist of her story. Of mixed-race origins, Janie is the object of much attention for her notably light black skin and physical beauty. But behind Janie's… (read full character analysis)
Of her three husbands (Logan Killicks and Jody Starks being the first two), Tea Cake is Janie's one and only true love throughout the novel. Twelve years younger than Janie and of much… (read full character analysis)
Jody Starks is Janie's handsome, wealthy, ambitious, and power-hungry second-husband. Meeting Jody Starks prompts Janie to leave her first husband, Logan Killicks, who she felt treated her as nothing more than an animal. Upon meeting… (read full character analysis)
A wealthy farmer and land-owner, Logan Killick's is Janie's first husband. Their marriage is arranged by Janie's grandmother Nanny, a former slave who desires financial security and social status for Janie, and thinks… (read full character analysis)
Leafy Crawford is Janie's mother, whom Janie never knew. She is the daughter of Nanny and Nanny's slave-master, who raped Nanny just before the end of the Civil War. Leafy is herself raped by… (read full character analysis)
Pheoby Watson is Janie's closest friend in Eatonville, and repeatedly defends Janie against the mean-spirited gossip of the townspeople. Pheoby is the character who listens to Janie tell her story – the body of… (read full character analysis)
Sam Watson is Pheoby's husband and a frequent participant in the conversations that unfold on the porch of Jody's store in Eatonville. Sam Watson voices particular concern on Janie's behalf as she begins to see… (read full character analysis)
A principal donor of Eatonville's initially existing fifty-acres, Captain Eaton is perhaps the first ambitious entrepreneur to set foot in Eatonville. However, when Jody and Janie arrive to Eatonville, Jody purchases more land from Captain… (read full character analysis)
Hezekiah Pott's is a loyal employee at Jody's store, and voices his judgments of Tea Cake to Janie as she begins to see him around the store following Jody's death. Hezekiah also attempts to… (read full character analysis)
Mr. and Mrs. Robbins are townspeople in Eatonville and patrons of Jody's store. When Mrs. Robbins comes to the store one day to beg for a bit of meat and the on-looking men on… (read full character analysis)
Annie Tyler is the infamous widow of Eatonville, who was cheated and left by her younger lover Who Flung. Townspeople of Eatonville warn Janie of this tale as she begins to date Tea Cake… (read full character analysis)
Mrs. Turner is Janie and Tea Cake's awkward looking and often disrespectful neighbor in the muck, who attempts to befriend Janie and alienates Tea Cake. Mrs. Turner repeatedly suggests that Janie go out with… (read full character analysis)
Johnny Taylor is the first person to kiss and be kissed by Janie at the age of sixteen, following her moment of sexual awakening under the pear tree. Having inadvertently witnessed her granddaughter's first kiss, Nanny immediately arranges for Janie to marry the older and wealthy farmer Logan Killicks.
Mr. and Mrs. Washburn
After Nanny is freed from slavery, she moves in with the white couple Mr. and Mrs. Washburn and works for them as an employee. Janie spends many of her childhood years living with Nanny in a small house in the Washburns' backyard, growing up alongside their children.
Lee Coker and Amos Hicks
Coker and Hicks are the pair of townspeople Jody and Janie encounter immediately upon arriving in Eatonville. Both men attempt unsuccessfully to seduce Janie, foreshadowing Jody's controlling behavior over his wife's self-expression due to feeling threatened by how many men desire Janie in the town.
Tony Taylor is the town assembly leader in Eatonville, until Jody comes along and usurps his power. After Jody takes over the town meeting, he enlists Tony Taylor as one of the two carpenters (along with Lee Coker) of the store he plans to build and run in Eatonville.
Matt Bonner is the owner of the sad looking mule that is initially the brunt of the townspeople's jokes. However, after Janie sympathizes with the victimized mule, Jody purchases it and Matt Bonner's mule becomes Eatonville's effective mascot.
Mr. Turner is Mrs. Turner's sad looking husband, described as having a "lungless laugh." Mr. Turner appears stripped of all his power and energy by his controlling and demanding wife.
Nunkie is the young, chunky girl who works alongside Janie and Tea Cake on the fields in the muck. One day, Janie finds Tea Cake and Nunkie playfully wrestling on the ground, and Janie aggressively separates them and berates Tea Cake for his apparent infidelity.
Motor Boat is a friend of Tea Cake and Janie's and fellow laborer in the muck. He remains with Tea Cake and Janie at their home during the hurricane, and the three of them eventually attempt to escape the rising waters of the hurricane together.
A woman from the town who seems to resent Janie.