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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS
The novel begins in 1931 and moves forward until 1963. It is set in a large city in Michigan and in the countryside around Danville, Pennsylvania and Shalimar, Virginia.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Macon "Milkman" Dead
The protagonist of the novel. He is a young African-American man who begins trying to escape from family ties and ends by embracing them.
Milkmanís father. He is a landlord of poor housing.
Maconís sister. She sells wine.
Milkmanís best friend. He is one of seven men-- called the Seven Days--who kill random European Americans in retaliation for murders of African Americans. In the end he tries to kill Milkman.
The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance agent who tries to fly from the top of Mercy hospital to the other side of Lake Superior. One of the Seven Days.
Ruth Foster Dead
Milkmanís sister, who is called Lena.
Freddie, the janitor
A man who works for the Deads. He is the one who names Ruthís son Milkman. He is the unofficial town crier.
Guitarís grandmother who asks Macon Dead for an extension on her rent.
One of Macon Deadís tenants. He goes crazy and cries out his window for a woman to have sex with. He becomes Corinthian Deadís lover years later and is one of the Seven Days.
Pilateís daughter, who wins prizes and gives gifts away to men.
Rebaís daughter, who falls in love with Milkman and loses herself. She tries to kill Milkman when he leaves her and then she dies.
The man who runs Featherís pool hall. He will not let Milkman enter because he hates Macon Dead.
A man who owns a barbershop with his brother and is one of the Seven Days.
Railroadís brother and partner in the barbershop. He talks like an encyclopedia and is one of the Seven Days.
A man who works in the barbershop. He had come back from the war married to a white woman from France. One day he came home and found her with another Black man; he realized she was in love with all Black men, not just him. From that moment, he never spoke again. He is one of the Seven Days.
A woman for whom Corinthian works as a maid and then secretary. She is the poet laureate of the city.
Milkmanís grandfather. He is misnamed during Reconstruction by a drunken northern soldier who asks him who his father is (dead) and in what county he was born (Macon). His original name, Jake, is lost until his grandson finds it in Shalimar, Virginia.
Milkmanís grandmother. She is a Native American whose family has dispersed in the present generation in an attempt to pass for white.
A man who lives in Danville, Pennsylvania and helps Milkman find Circe.
The man who drives Milkman out to the Butlersí house where Circe still lives.
The man who owns the general store in Shalimar, Virginia.
The man who starts a fight with Milkman in Shalimar.
The old man who asks Milkman to go hunting.
The old man whose house is the meeting place for the hunting party.
Luther Solomon, Calvin Breakstone, and Small Boy
Old men in the hunting party.
Omarís wife who cooks breakfast for the men when they return from hunting. She remembers stories that Sing was her grandmotherís childhood friend.
The woman with whom Milkman stays when he is in Shalimar. She is the first woman whose care he reciprocates.
A woman who turns out to be Milkmanís cousin.
The woman who is visiting Susan Byrd when Milkman comes to see her. She flirts with Milkman.