Caddy is the middle child of the three Compson children of “That Evening Sun.” She likes Nancy and can sense Nancy’s fear, but is too young to understand what is frightening Nancy.
See Caddy Compson
At age five, Jason is the youngest of the Compson children. He is quite childish, and he is also self-centered. He keeps repeating “I ain’t a nigger” to Nancy, and she is especially worried he is only concerned about such matters as whether Dilsey will make him a chocolate cake. Like his mother, Jason represents the indifference of many white people to the problems of their black employees.
Quentin narrates the story. He is nine. We see very little of his personality come out in this story; of the three children, he speaks the least. Yet we do learn that he has the most responsibility of the Compson children, and is a quiet, thoughtful boy. Although he never lets us know this, he seems to understand what Nancy fears, unlike his siblings. He also is a main character in a number of other of Faulkner’s works, most notably Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury, in which he kills himself by throwing himself into the Charles River while enrolled at Harvard. In many ways, he is Faulkner’s representation of himself.
Dilsey is the Compson’s regular house servant. For much of the story, she is unable to perform her duties, and therefore Nancy must fill in for her.
Mr. Compson, referred to as Father, is the father of the three children and is the patriarch of this important Jefferson family. He seems to have concern for Nancy but is convinced that her fears about Jesus’ threat to her are unfounded.
Jesus is Nancy’s common-law husband. Unlike many of the other washerwomen’s husbands, he never helps Nancy get the clothes. He also may be violent, and has a “razor scar down his face.” He suspects that she is pregnant with another man’s baby. Nancy fears that he wants to kill her, and Mr. Compson forbids his children to have any dealings with him.
Mrs. Compson, referred to as Mother, is the children’s mother. She barely appears in the story, and is utterly unconcerned for Nancy. At one point, a terrified Nancy wants to sleep in the Compson house, perhaps even up in one of the children’s rooms, but Mother feels that “I can’t have Negroes sleeping in the bedrooms.” Nancy Nancy is the main character of the story. She is an older African-American woman who makes a living by taking white peoples’ laundry in. She is ”tall, with a high, sad face sunken where her teeth were missing.” Early in the story, while jailed for confronting Mr. Stovall, she attempts suicide but is revived.
Aunt Rachel is a old black woman who lives in Jefferson. She may be Jesus’ mother, but she does not always admit this. She is called “Aunt” Rachel because in the South white people often called older black women ”Aunt” and older black men ”Uncle.” The excess familiarity was meant to remind black people of their inferior status.
Mr. Stovall is a cashier in the bank in Jefferson and a deacon of the local Baptist church. He employs Nancy to do his laundry, but has not paid her for some time. When she confronts him, he knocks her down and kicks her in the mouth until the town marshal stops him. He is not punished for his actions; rather, Nancy is jailed.
Jennifer Smith – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 12, William Faulkner, Published by Gale Group, 2001.