Study Guide

Minor Characters in The River Between Us

Minor Characters

Aunt Madge Bledsoe

As far as we can tell, Aunt Madge Bledsoe is nobody's real aunt, or at least, nobody's in this story. She's just an old lady who lives in Grand Tower.

Boys Drilling

The lists of boys drilling in preparation for war show that Grand Tower is divided in its loyalties. Those drilling for the North include Noah, the Henson boys, Gideon Hickman, and Jake Popejoy. Those drilling for the South include the Cottrell brothers, Mose Thornton, Jaret Dalrymple, and Curry Marshall.

Chilly Attabury

Chilly, which seems like a good name for a penguin, is alas not a penguin but the official caller at square dances in Grand Tower. He often waxes poetic in his calling, making up rhymes to go with current events.

Clemence Duval

Though we never see Clemence Duval in person, we know through her daughters that she is beautiful and brave and smart. Clemence is the one who sends Delphine and Calinda north to an unknown land so they can be free and safe, even though it means she will never see them again:

"Ah, she is brave, that one […] If anyone dare besiege New Orleans, Clemence Duval will defend it with her last breath." (4.58)

Looks like her daughters don't fall too far from the tree, right? Delphine is proud of her mother's beauty and grace, too: "Tall as a swaying palmetto is Maman, the belle of ev'ry ball. You have not live until you see Maman revolving in the waltz, her shoulders bare, her throat ablaze" (4.62). Until the river traffic shuts down, Clemence sends Delphine and Calinda provisions from New Orleans. In the end, Delphine and Calinda's brave and beautiful mother dies during the war.

Curry Marshall

Despite his secessionist leanings, Tilly has a pretty good-size crush on local boy Curry Marshall, "a big, tall galoot" (3.22), and he seems to reciprocate it since he leaves his spelling ribbons in her keeping when he goes to war. Flowers, chocolates … spelling ribbons? We guess he had to leave something, but it's no wonder Tilly transfers her affections to Dr. Hutchings. Curry disappears during the war, and no one ever knows what happened to him.

Enos Walker

Enos Walker is the owner of the sawmill in Grand Tower that Noah works at after the war.

Jules Duval

Delphine and Calinda's dad "is of an ancient French family, you know. The Duvals are there on their land long before the Americans come. Long before" (5.40). Life in New Orleans has treated the Duval family well: "He live, Papa, mostly in the country. A gentleman, you know. But he come to New Orleans for the opera, and of course for the balls" (5.42). Well, then.

Delphine's connection to her father is very important to her. She travels everywhere with his portrait, which is even hanging over her deathbed in 1916. However, it appears that it's the identification of herself with Jules Duval that's more important, as they don't appear to have a close father-daughter relationship.

Madame Blanche LeBlanc

Madame Blanche LeBlanc is not a real person—she's the fictional St. Louis aunt Delphine invents to explain why she's traveling north. Her name literally translates to "White the White," which is kind of clever of Delphine.

Mr. Clarence Worthen and Old Man "Dutchy" Brunckhorst

Two men who like to argue on the porch of Jenkins's store, Mr. Clarence Worthen is from Kentucky ancestry and is for the South, while Old Man "Dutchy" Brunckhorst is for the North.

Mrs. Champ Hazelrigg

She's not actually a character in this story, but everyone in Grand Tower knows her for being "et by her own hogs" (3.18), which makes her worth a mention here. Among things to be known for, it's not great.

Mrs. Hanrahan

What can we say about Mrs. Hanrahan other than that she's the giant racist who outs Delphine as "a colored gal" (12.10)? Well, she's a greedy giant racist who wants to keep Delphine as a tenant for her money and then destroys every piece of crockery she eats or drinks from. She also clings to Dr. Hutchings in "an unseemly way" (12.5), suggesting some cougar tendencies.

Yeah, Delphine and Tilly's Cairo landlady is not a great person to have around, but she serves an important function in the book since she blows Delphine's cover.

Mrs. Harod Yancey

Mrs. Harod Yancey is an old lady who lives in Grand Tower and is so old school that she dips "snuff on a stick" (3.18), which sounds like something we might get at a Civil War-era Renaissance Fair, if that were a legit thing.

Mrs. Manfred Cady, Mrs. R.M. Breeze, and Mrs. T.W. Jenkins

These three busybodies are basically indistinguishable. "They looked like three of Cass's hens, all feathered out and suffering in this heat" (7.7). They're the ones who brave the climb up to the Pruitt house to criticize Mama for taking in Delphine and Calinda. Tilly says:

I'd heard somewheres of ladies with no more to do than call on each other in the afternoons. That didn't sound much like Grand Tower. And the climb alone would have discouraged them from us. Still, here a bunch came, looking for more pathway than they could find. (7.5)

They don't have a clue who the girls really are; they think they're Confederate spies and that even if they're not, it's indecent to have young girls in the same house with Noah. Mrs. T.W. Jenkins is married to the store owner, Mrs. R.M. Breeze is the preacher's wife, and it's unclear who exactly Mrs. Manfred Cady is.


The missing link in Pruitt family life, Paw has gone to work on the river. In reality, he's abandoned his family and hasn't come home in years. When he finally arrives in a coffin with his Confederate effects, Noah realizes he fought against him in battle. Tilly sums up their relationship: "It was fitting that Paw had ended up fighting on the other side. He'd never been on ours" (14.54). Boom.

Pegleg Snelson

We hope his real name isn't Pegleg. This is the guy with the buckboard who carries Delphine and Tilly to and from the train.

T.W. Jenkins

An important figure in Grand Tower, he runs the freight landing and one of two stores. Noah works for him loading and unloading freight before the war.