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Characters

Meet the Cast

Bigger Thomas

Twenty years old at the start of the novel, Wright’s protagonist Bigger Thomas lives a life so small, it’s claustrophobic. At the opening of the novel, Bigger makes his living through p...

Mr. Boris Max

Like Bigger, Max feels a deep sense of exclusion from American society. As a Jew and a Communist, he suffers in myriad ways because American society is dictated by the prejudices of the majority. P...

Jan Erlone

Jan Erlone is Mary’s boyfriend, a Communist, and a union organizer. Aside from Bigger, Jan is the character who gains the most self-knowledge in the course of the novel. Though he wants to fi...

Mary Dalton

Mary Dalton, the only daughter of a wealthy capitalist in Chicago, rebels the only way she knows how: she starts dating a Communist. Her attempts to break free from her family’s wealth lead h...

Bessie Mears

Bessie, Bigger’s girlfriend, works so hard that all she wants on her day off is to get drunk. Bigger wants a little loving and she’s willing to exchange sex for liquor money. This is th...

Mrs. Dalton

Mrs. Dalton is a wealthy blind woman who takes a great interest in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and encourages her husband to be generous with their wealth...

Mr. Henry Dalton

Mr. Dalton, Bigger’s employer, positions himself as a liberal, progressive white citizen of Chicago. In reality, one could argue that he is racist. He fails to recognize how he actively explo...

Mrs. Thomas

Bigger’s mother nags him all the time. She won’t leave Bigger alone about the job, no matter how many times he says he’s going to take it. She’s a deeply religious woman and...

Peggy

Peggy is the Daltons’ bustling Irish housekeeper. She clearly believes part of her job is to instruct Bigger and remind him to fulfill his duties. She believes the Daltons have been great ben...

Buddy

Buddy is Bigger’s loyal little brother, who wants to be just like Bigger.

Vera

Bigger’s little sister, Vera, lives with the same kind of fear and shame that Bigger suffers. Though Vera’s behavior frequently annoys Bigger, when he hears that his little sister had t...

Mr. Buckley

Buckley, the State’s Attorney, uses devious tactics to gain a confession from Bigger. Despite the fact that Bigger pleads guilty, Buckley calls all individuals connected with the case in any...

Mr. Britten

Hired by Mr. Dalton to investigate his daughter’s disappearance, Britten is prejudiced against both blacks and Communists. Initially suspicious of Jan Erlone, he quickly believes that Jan and...
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