Main Character List
Author and narrator of the book. James was the eighth of twelve children. He talked about his embarrassment for having a white mother as a child, but learned to cope with it. James had dealt with drugs and committing crimes, but fought his addiction and returned to school. Ruth McBride
Mother of twelve children including James. She was born as a Jewish immigrant, having a disabled mother and a racist and cheap father. Ruth married two black men (Andrew McBride and Hunter Jordan) , regardless of their race, and changed her religion to Christianity, influenced by Andrew McBride, making her feel happier. Ruth’s birth name was Ruchel, Americanizing it to Rachel, then further changing it to Ruth after getting married. Fishel Shilsky
Ruth’s father and James’s grandfather. Fishel, also known by Ruth as “Tateh”, was a Jewish rabbi who was greedy and made life unhappy for his family. Fishel had sexually abused Ruth as a child, and he had divorced his hard working disabled wife, and ran off with another woman leaving the family fatherless. Fishel said Ruth was out of the family for marrying a black man. Hudis Shilsky
Ruth’s mother and James’s grandmother. Hudis, also known by Ruth as “Mameh”, suffered from polio which disabled her left side. She died in a hospital after Fishel’s divorce, and Ruth’s move for New York. Ruth was uninvited to see her mother after she married a black man. Bubeh
Ruth’s grandmother who helped Ruth in New York. Bubeh accepted Ruth, and let Ruth live with her. Bubeh tried to keep Ruth away from danger in New York, but was unsuccessful because of her old age and sickness. Peter
Ruth’s first boyfriend. He was an African American who lived behind her family store. It was Ruth’s first time to fall in love, and in result got pregnant. She had an abortion with the help of her Aunts without notifying her father. Ruth chose to never see Peter again. Chicken Man
James’s friend in the corner....