The Black Community
Old Mammy Jane: (static character) Jane has been a slave/wet nurse for the Merkells (3). She is incredibly loyal to the Merkells/Carterets, telling the new nurse, "I wants you ter understan' dat you got ter take good keer er did chile; fer I nuessed his mammy dere, an' his gran'mammy befo' 'I'm, an' you is got a priv'lege dat mos' lackly you don' 'preciate" (41). Notwithstanding her allegiance with the Merkell-Carteret family, Mammy Jane does not escape violence; on the contrary, Jane dies in the street, calling for her old mistress (Chesnutt 296-297).
Jerry: (static character) Jerry is Jane's grandson, and he works as a servant at the newspaper. He has internalized the South's perceptions of African-Americans. He prefers the Major's patronizing nod to Ellis' handshake (29). He does mistrust Captain McBane and recognizes him as a dangerous character for the African-American community (38). He is the only African-American character who knows about the voter suppression plot, but he chooses to side with the "Angry-Saxon race" (90). He becomes a witness against Sandy, and again stresses his affiliation with the white community. He actively supports Sandy's lynching. Jerry tried to change his appearance to look more white, which shows his internalized racism, because he believes it is a "distinct advantage" to at least looks white (245). When asked why he applied the product, he said it was "ter improve de quality" (244). When Major Carteret did not approve of Jerry wanting to change of his appearance and talked down on the product, Jerry felt ashamed and tried to wash it off. He tries to avoid the riot, but Josh enlists Jerry to protect the hospital. When the white mob sets the hospital on fire, Jerry tries to escape, and is shot dead. Ironically, Jerry flees, because he sees the Major. However, the Major does not see the young black man. The narrative summarizes, "Jerry's poor flag of truce, his explanations, his reliance upon his white friends, all failed him in the moment of supreme need" (Chesnutt 307). Chesnutt argues through Jerry and his grandmother's death that unctuous deference to the white community does not guarantee protection from racially motivated violence.
unnamed nurse: (static character) Although she does not have a name, she represents a new generation of working African-American characters. For her, nursing Dodie is a job, "purely a matter of business; she sold her time for their money. There was no question of love between them" (42). The Major and Jane think her uppity and lacking in manners, but the nurse does not proscribe to Jane's deference to white patrons.
-“...apparently about forty years old, to whom short side-whiskers and spectacles imparted an air of sobriety.” (Chesnutt 13-14).
-Sandy is devoted to Old Delamere and once saved Delamere's life at the risk of his own. There is a lot of respect and devotion between Old Delamere and Sandy
-Tom Delamere does not share his grandfather's respect and devotion for Sandy. “Tom could scarcely preserve his gravity at this characterization of old Sandy, with his ridiculous air of importance, his long blue coat, and his loud plaid trousers. That suit would make a great costume for a masquerade. He would borrow it some time,—there was nothing in the world like it.” (Chesnutt 26).
Sandy lends Tom some money, because he wants to preserve the family's legacy. However, after young Delamere uses a racial slur, Sandy stands up for himself, telling Tom that in all his years of service he has never been called darky, insinuating that Tom may have the Delamere name, but he does not have the family's genteel character. Tom later returns the money plus insurance in the form of gold coins. These gold coins and a purse link Sandy to Polly's murder, so the man is arrested.
With the discovery of Tom's crime, Sandy is released. However, the narrative quickly points out that he "was discharged upon the ground that there was not sufficient evidence upon which to hold him" (Chesnutt 232). Sandy's release does not make him innocent; rather, the court infers a level of guilt. This language suggests that even though Sandy is innocent, the court (and the white community) still holds him accountable.
Tom fires Sandy, after giving him Mr. Delamere's wardrobe. The Major hires him as a butler, "making a sort of vicarious atonement, on the part of the white race" (Chesnutt 236). The black community receives Sandy again, most notably the Methodist church that restores his membership.
Josh Green: (static character) Dr. Miller notices an unnamed black man who has hitched a ride on the southbound train. Readers do not know much about him, except that he has "a concentrated hatred" towards Captain McBane (Chesnutt 59; 62). Josh is described as “Miller recognized him as a black giant” (109). He is a very large and strong colored man, covered in dust. “Reputation for absolute fearlessness” (109). He is always starting fights, and doesn’t seem to be in pain even though his arm is fractured. Josh didn’t want to kill a man he was fighting because he didn’t know if the man had a family that was depending on him, shows that he doesn’t only care about violence. Resembles McBane as both are violent men, but that Josh can show restraint and McBane can’t. He hates McBane, because the captain led a KKK group that killed his dad and scared his mom, thus leading to his desire to kill McBane. When Josh hears about Sandy's arrest, he desires to come forward as a witness; however, his reputation and race make him "unreliable." When he sees that his witness is invalid, he demands action. He proposes gathering fifty men to guard Sandy, even though Miller and Watson only see a potential bloodbath. In these scenes, Josh represents action, albeit violent, as a recourse to violence. During the riot, he is shown to be a leader. Kills Mcbane in the riot, thus, reaching his ultimate goal.