The Marrow of Tradition

The Marrow of Tradition Character List

Major Carteret

Major Carteret is the patriarch of the Carteret and Merkell clans. He is the editor of the Chronicle and uses his aristocratic heritage and public platform to advocate for racial purity and white supremacy.

Olivia Carteret

Olivia Carteret is the wife of Major Carteret. She comes from an aristocratic family. She is the half-sister of Janet Miller. She gives birth at a late age in life.

Mammy Jane

Mammy Jane is Olivia Carteret's nursemaid and caretaker. She had also been Olivia's mother's maid and caretaker. She represents an older generation of African Americans who were protective of the segregation dynamics of the South.

Polly Ochiltree

Polly is Olivia's aunt. She cares for Olivia as a child and comes to live with the Carteret family at Dodie's birth.

Dodie Carteret

Dodie is Olive and Major Carteret's son.

Dr. Price

Dr. Price is the Carteret's family doctor. He is liberal in his views towards race relations but, nonetheless upholds the institution of segregation and racism.

Dr. Burns

Dr. Burns is a Philadelphia specialist called in to perform surgery on young Dodie Carteret. He is a former teacher of Dr. Miller and is horrified at the segregation he sees perpetrated upon Miller on his journey south.

Dr. Miller

Dr. Miller is an African American doctor of mixed race in the town of Wellington. He is a very educated man who studied in Europe and is well respected in his field. He purposefully came back to his hometown of Wellington to open a hospital for the black community. The novel's climax is Dr. Miller's search for his wife and son and his decision to treat the Carteret's sick son.

Tom Delamere

Tom Delamere is the privileged son and heir of the Delamere family. It is revealed that Tom is a drinker, gambler, and morally lax individual. He impersonates Sandy and murders and robs his aunt Polly Ochiltree.

Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is an editor at the Morning Chronicle. He is in love with Clara Pemberton, though Tom Delamere thwarts his love. He is sympathetic with black civil rights but often does not do enough to act on his convictions.

Captain McBane

Captain McBane is a former slave driver and Confederate officer that became rich by exploiting prison labor. McBane is interested in advancing in Wellington society, and he works with Carteret and General Belmont to come up with a plan to advance white supremacy. He is a very violent and unstable man.

General Belmont

General Belmont is a former Confederate General and aristocrat who works with Carteret and McBane to advance a platform of white supremacy.


Jerry works for Major Carteret at his newspaper. He is an African American who is servile to the white ruling class in order to ensure his own economic gain and survival. He is depicted as being cunning and conniving. He dies in the mob violence of the riots.

Josh Green

Josh Green is a poor black man in Wellington whose father was killed by McBane. He is angry and takes the incident of the riot as a chance to fight against white domination. He kills and is killed by Captain McBane.


Sandy is the Delamere's servant who is falsely accused of the murder of Polly Ochiltree. He is nearly lynched before Old Mr. Delamere's false testimony saves him.

Mr. Delamere

Old Mr. Delamere is the patriarch of the Delamere family. He is a man of integrity and honesty and is quietly sympathetic to black civil rights.