Shadrack A shell-shocked veteran of World War I from the Bottom, he creates National Suicide Day, January 3, a day every year when people who wish to commit suicide can do so without being stigmatized; this way, death is contained because it occurs only once a year.
Sula Peace Hannah's daughter and Eva's granddaughter, whose most defining physical feature is a mysterious birthmark over one of her eyes. Although Sula never marries, she takes many lovers; the black community regards her as evil and bewitched.
Nel Wright Greene The daughter of Helene Sabat Wright, Nel is Sula's best friend — until she discovers her husband and Sula naked on the floor, on all fours "like dogs."
Eva Peace Although her husband, BoyBoy, deserts her, Eva manages to raise three children. As the matriarch of her family, she runs a large house full of boarders, including the deweys and Tar Baby. She mercifully kills her drug-addicted son, Plum, and possibly her daughter Hannah.
Hannah Peace Eva's daughter and Sula's mother. An extraordinarily good-looking woman, Hannah has sex with most of the husbands in the Bottom but wants no husband of her own. Because she isn't possessive of their men, the women of the Bottom like Hannah.
Plum Peace Eva's youngest child and only son; his real name is Ralph, but Eva always calls him Plum. He returns home from World War I a damaged and disillusioned alcoholic and drug addict.
Helene Sabat Wright The daughter of a New Orleans prostitute, Helene distances herself from her past as soon as possible. After marrying Wiley Wright, she establishes a respectable home and position in the black community for herself and her daughter, Nel.
Jude Greene Nel Wright's husband. As his biblical name suggests, Jude betrays Nel when he has a one-time affair with Nel's best friend, Sula.
Ajax (Albert Jacks) The strong, free-spirited young man whom Sula knows during her adolescence. He reappears in Sula's life when she is twenty-nine and becomes her lover for a brief period.
Tar Baby (Pretty Johnny) A melancholy white man who has come to the Bottom to drink himself to death; he boards with Eva.
Chicken Little The little boy whom Sula and Nel play with by the river. He drowns accidentally.
The Deweys Three young boys whom Eva takes into her family.
BoyBoy Eva's errant husband and father to her three children. He deserts the family, then briefly reappears three years later, along with a girlfriend in a pea-green dress.
Mrs. Suggs A kindhearted neighbor, she helps Eva and her young family after BoyBoy deserts them; she and her husband douse the burning Hannah with water that they are using to can tomatoes.