Character List and Analysis
Ajarry Cora’s grandmother, who was kidnapped from Africa and sold as a slave in the American South, eventually reaching the Randall plantation
Mabel Cora’s mother, who, when Cora was 10 or 11 years old, ran away, leaving her daughter behind. Mabel was never caught, making everyone think that perhaps she had successfully reached the North. In reality, however, she had a change of heart mere hours after leaving the plantation and tried to go back. On her return journey, a cottonmouth snake bit her and she died in a swamp.
Old Randall the owner of the Randall plantation when Ajarry was bought and the father of Terrance and James
Jockey an old slave who regularly declares that it is his birthday
Lovey A young slave girl who is one of Cora’s closest friends on the Randall plantation, Lovey follows Cora and Caesar when they escape and tries to join them. When the trio is ambushed, Lovey is caught and returned to the Randall plantation, where she is killed.
Moses a slave boss (still a slave himself) on the Randall plantation who regularly raped Mabel before she ran away
Blake a slave on the Randall plantation who destroyed Cora’s garden to build a doghouse on the plot of land
James Randall Old Randall’s older son, James is a more passive plantation manager than his brother, Terrance, and thus is more “humane” despite his lack of interest in his slaves’ humanity. He dies of kidney failure, leaving his half of the plantation to Terrance.
Terrance Randall Old Randall’s younger son. After his father’s death, Terrance manages half the Randall plantation; when James dies, he becomes the sole heir. Terrance is obsessed with making money as efficiently as possible and is consequently brutal to his slaves. After Cora escapes, he obsesses with catching her. While Cora is living in Indiana, her friend Sam brings news that Terrance has died.
Connelly the overseer of the Randall plantation, an Irishman who enjoys finding “mistresses” among the young slave women
Michael a slave on the Randall plantation who can recite the Declaration of Independence
Chester A young slave on the Randall plantation, Chester accidentally bumps into Terrance Randall while dancing and is beaten for it. Cora intervenes while he is being beaten and is herself beaten as well.
Big Anthony A slave who tries to escape the Randall plantation after James’s death, Big Anthony is caught, tortured, and burned alive in front of an audience.
Mrs. Garner a Virginia widow who was Caesar’s first owner and taught him to read
Mr. Fletcher A white shopkeeper in Georgia who tells Caesar about the underground railroad, Caesar and Cora escape to his house, and he brings them to the nearest station.
Lumbly the underground railroad station agent in Georgia
The Andersons a white family in South Carolina for whom Cora works as a maid
Sam a station agent of the underground railroad and a bartender in South Carolina; when Caesar and Cora are discovered, the town becomes suspicious of him and burns down his house. Sam continues working for the underground railroad and eventually reunites with Cora on the Valentine farm.
Miss Lucy the proctor at the dormitory building where Cora lives in South Carolina
Miss Handler the teacher at the South Carolina school for colored women where Cora studies
Mr. Fields Cora’s boss when she works as a living prop at the Museum of Natural Wonders
Dr. Aloysius Stevens a South Carolina doctor who tries to convince Cora to be voluntarily sterilized; as a medical student, he also worked with a crew of grave robbers to supply his school with cadavers.
Martin Wells An unwilling station agent for the underground railroad in North Carolina, Martin hides Cora in his attic for months until she is discovered. Martin and his wife are stoned to death by the townspeople.
Ethel Wells Martin’s wife, Ethel resents having Cora in her house but eventually softens enough to read the Bible to her. Ethel once dreamed of being a missionary to Africa.
Fiona An Irish immigrant who works as the Wellses’ maid, when she realizes they are hiding Cora, she reports them to the authorities.
Jamison a town leader in North Carolina who directs public executions
Donald Wells Martin’s father, a secret abolitionist whose deathbed request was that Martin continues his work with the underground railroad
Jasmine a young slave who was Ethel’s childhood friend
Jasper A captured runaway slave being delivered back to his plantation by Ridgeway, when Jasper won’t stop singing, Ridgeway gets so annoyed that he kills him.
Boseman a slave catcher who works with Ridgeway until Red, one of Royal’s companions, shoots him
Homer Homer is a young black boy who drives Ridgeway’s wagon. Ridgeway bought him and immediately freed him, but Homer refuses to leave Ridgeway.
Royal A freeborn black man and the leader of the group that rescues Cora from Ridgeway, Royal falls in love with Cora, but he is killed in the Valentine farm raid before Cora has told him that she loves him too.
Red Royal’s companion in rescuing Cora and the one who shoots Boseman
Justin a recent runaway slave who helps rescue Cora
Georgina a schoolteacher at the Valentine farm
Molly a 10-year-old girl at the Valentine farm who lives with her mother, Sybil, and with Cora
Jimmy an old escaped slave who lives at the Valentine farm
Sybil Molly’s mother and Cora’s cabinmate at the Valentine farm, she ran away with her daughter when Molly was 2 years old.
John Valentine a light-skinned Ethiopian, an abolitionist, and the owner of the Valentine farm
Gloria Valentine John Valentine’s wife, a former slave
Elijah Lander A talented public speaker and outspoken abolitionist, born to a white father and a black mother. An angry white mob shoots and kills him while he is speaking at the Valentine farm.
Mingo A former slave who purchased his and his family’s freedom, he now lives on the Valentine farm. He believes that the farm is becoming too dangerous and offensive to whites, and he argues against accepting fugitives such as Cora.
Rumsey Brooks a poet who visits the Valentine farm
Grayson Mabel’s husband and Cora’s father, he dies before Cora is born.
Ollie an older black man traveling to St. Louis, and then to California, who offers Cora a ride when she emerges from her final stop on the underground railroad