Roxana is a slave, originally owned by Percy Driscoll and freed upon his death. Roxy is only 1⁄16 black, and with her fair complexion, brown eyes and straight brown hair, could easily pass for white based on appearance alone. However, due to societal conventions, she is considered black, and she herself considers herself black, speaking the dialect of slaves in the antebellum South. She is the mother of Valet de Chambre and acts as nanny to Thomas Driscoll. Due to her son's light skin and Percy Driscoll's inattention as father, she is able to switch the children's identities as infants, thus guaranteeing an upper-class upbringing for her own son.
Thomas "Tom" Driscoll
Thomas à Becket Driscoll is the son of Percy Driscoll. Tom is switched with Roxy's baby Chambers when he is only a few months old, and is called "Chambers" from then on. Chambers is raised as a slave and is purchased by Judge Driscoll, childless and sad, when the judge's brother Percy dies, to prevent "Tom" from selling him "down the river". Chambers is a decent young man who is often forced to fight bullies for Tom. He is kind and always respectful towards Tom but receives brutal hate from his master. Raised as a black man, he speaks in the black dialect spoken during slavery.
Valet de Chambre is Roxy's son. Chambers is 1⁄32 black, and as Roxy's son, was born into slavery. At a young age he is switched by his mother with Thomas à Becket Driscoll, a white child of similar age born into an aristocratic family in the small town. From then on he is known as "Tom", and is raised as the white heir to a large estate. Tom, the focus of the novel, is spoiled, cruel and wicked. In his early years he has an intense hate for Chambers even though Chambers protected Tom and saved his life on numerous occasions. Tom's feelings and attitude portray him as the embodiment of human folly. His weakness for gambling leads him into debt, and his uncle (and adoptive father) Judge Driscoll, frequently disinherits him, only to rewrite his will yet again.
The Capello Twins
Luigi and Angelo Capello, a set of near-identical twins, appear in Dawson's Landing in reply to an ad placed by Aunt Patsy, who is looking for a boarder. They say they are looking to relax after years of traveling the world. They claim to be the children of an Italian nobleman who was forced to flee Italy with his wife after a revolution. He died soon afterwards, followed by his wife. One of the twins is said to have killed a man, and thus develops the reputation as a killer. One of the twins kicks Tom because he made a joke about him at a town meeting, and as a result Tom's uncle challenges Luigi to a duel.
David "Pudd'nhead" Wilson
Wilson is a lawyer who came to Dawson's Landing to practice law, only to find himself unable to set up a profitable law practice due to the townsfolk's low opinion of his intelligence and common sense. He nevertheless settles down to a comfortable life in the town, acting as a bookkeeper and pursuing his hobby of collecting fingerprints. Although the title character, he remains in the background of the novel until he becomes prominent in the final chapters.