Claudia MacTeer One of the novel’s narrators; Claudia’s childhood memories begin each of the chapters titled Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Claudia is about nine years old when the events of the novel take place.
Frieda MacTeer Claudia’s older sister, about ten years old. Frieda and Claudia share a childhood friendship with Pecola Breedlove.
Mrs. MacTeer Claudia and Frieda’s mother.
Pauline Breedlove When she was two years old, she stepped on a rusty nail and afterward walked with a characteristic limp. She is a diligent housekeeper for a wealthy white family and the primary breadwinner for the Breedlove family. She has two children by Cholly Breedlove: Sammy and Pecola.
Cholly Breedlove When he was four days old, Cholly’s mother wrapped him in newspapers and blankets and threw him on a junk heap; his father had already deserted the family. Cholly was raised by his great aunt, called Aunt Jimmy. As an adult, Cholly is frequently drunk, and he is abusive to his wife and children.
Sammy Breedlove Sammy is the son of Pauline and Cholly Breedlove and the brother of Pecola.
Marie, China, and Poland Three prostitutes who live in the apartment above the Breedloves; they fascinate Frieda and Claudia, and they befriend Pecola.
Geraldine A socially conscious, middle-class black woman, Geraldine shows little affection for her son, Louis Junior, but she has enormous adoration for her blue-eyed black cat.
Louis Junior Geraldine’s only child is unloved and deeply troubled; he bullies and torments Pecola.
Elihue Micah Whitcomb (Soaphead Church) A self-styled spiritualist, “Reader, Advisor, and Interpreter of Dreams,” Soaphead’s mixed blood keeps him free from the label of being black, although his racial and sexual ambiguities confine him to a life of no identity. Pecola consults him in her quest for blue eyes.
Aunt Jimmy A kind, generous, earthy woman, she rescues and raises Cholly Breedlove. Oftentimes in the South, an aunt is referred to by her husband’s name — for example, Aunt Ed or Aunt Earl; it’s possible that Cholly’s great aunt was once married to a man named Jimmy.
Blue Jack Blue befriends a young and impressionable Cholly; because of his storytelling and gentle ways, he becomes a father figure whom Cholly remembers all his life.
Della Jones Mr. Henry’s former landlady; after she suffers a stroke, she seems confused most of the time.
Peggy A woman from Elyria who is romantically involved with Della Jones’ husband.
Old Slack Bessie Peggy’s mother.
Hattie Della’s sister and the object of gossip because of her absentminded grinning.
Aunt Julia Della’s aunt, known for her eccentricity.
Bay Boy, Woodrow Cain, Buddy Wilson, Junie Bug A group of black school boys who torment Pecola until she is rescued by Claudia, Frieda, and Maureen Peal.
Dewey Prince One of Marie’s boyfriends.
Rosemary Villanucci Claudia and Frieda’s next-door white neighbor.
Darlene Cholly Breedlove’s first girlfriend; they suffered a humiliating sexual encounter when they were interrupted by jeering white men.
Mr. Henry A boarder at the MacTeer house; he is beaten by Mr. MacTeer after he touches Frieda’s breasts.
Samson Fuller Cholly Breedlove’s father, he abandoned Cholly before the boy was born.
Miss Alice A close friend of Aunt Jimmy.
M’Dear A respected midwife, she is known for her knowledge of herbal medicine.
Essie Foster A neighbor and friend to Cholly and his Aunt Jimmy, her peach cobbler is blamed for causing Aunt Jimmy’s death.
O.V. Aunt Jimmy’s half-brother and Cholly’s uncle; Cholly doesn’t trust him or like him.
Jake When he is fifteen years old, he meets his cousin Cholly at Aunt Jimmy’s funeral; they strike up a friendship and flirt with girls.
Maureen Peal Claudia and Frieda refer to her as “Meringue Pie”; she is both hated and admired because of her beautiful clothes, light skin, long hair, and green eyes.
Chicken and Pie Pauline Breedlove’s twin siblings, who were under her care before she married Cholly Breedlove.
Mr. and Mrs. Fisher The well-to-do white couple who employ Pauline as their maid and brag that she is the “ideal servant.” They call her “Polly.”
Mr. Yacobowski A fifty-two-year-old white immigrant who owns the neighborhood candy store.