Aaron is one of the founding fathers of Ruby. Despite this, he holds virtue above pride, and Lone seeks him out when she hopes to stop the men from attacking the Convent.
One of the founding fathers of Ruby, Anna’s father, and the owner of Ace’s general store.
Anna is the daughter of Ace Flood. For a time she lived outside of Ruby, but she returned to run Ace’s store after his death. She is sympathetic towards the youth of Ruby and their desire for change in the town. She becomes engaged to Richard Misner; his arrival in town changes her mind about moving away again.
Apollo and Brood Poole
Two brothers with whom Billie Delia is in love. They nearly murder each other over her, although they later reconcile and agree to wait until she has chosen between them.
Arnette is the daughter of Arnold and Mable Fleetwood, and the sister of Jeff. She pursues K.D. Smith and becomes pregnant by him, though she tries to abort her baby. Arnette continues to pursue K.D. over the years, even though he is involved with Gigi, and eventually when she returns to Ruby from college they marry and have children.
The owner of the Fleetwood furniture store and the father of Jeff and Arnette.
Billie Delia Cato
The daughter of Patricia Best and Billy Cato, the granddaughter of Roger Best and Delia Best, and the best friend of Arnette Fleetwood. She is in love with Apollo and Brood Poole, between whom she is unable to choose. Her reputation has been tarred in town from childhood by an incident in which she removed her underwear to ride a horse, even though she was only three years old. She fights with her mother, who believes like everyone else that she is promiscuous and dangerous. Billie stays at the Convent for a period; eventually she moves to Demby and works in a hospital, though she returns to Ruby to be Arnette’s maid of honor.
The husband of Pat Best and a member of one of the original eight-rock families. He dies during the Korean War. His marriage to Pat Best helps legitimize her status in town, as her mother, Delia, is light-skinned.
Birdie is Mavis’ mother, whom Mavis seeks out in New Jersey after she runs away from Frank and her children. Mavis stays with her for a time, but runs away again when she overhears Birdie on the phone with Frank telling him he must come soon.
Carlos is Pallas’ boyfriend. He is an older sculptor who works as a janitor at Pallas' high school. Pallas runs away to her estranged mother’s house with him. However, Pallas discovers Carlos making love with her mother Dee Dee, causing her to run away again.
Che is the baby whom Arnette conceives by K.D. when she is fourteen. She tries unsuccessfully to abort him by injuring herself, but she does induce a premature birth. Gigi names him 'Che' after Arnette abandons him, though he lives only three days before dying.
Consolata “Connie” Sosa
Sister Mary Magna picks up the nine-year-old orphan Connie off the streets of Brazil in 1925. Because Mary Magna is the first person to show love and concern for Connie, Connie is loyal to her for the rest of her life. She comes with Mary Magna to the school for Indian girls where she is assigned, and stays at the Convent to nurse Mary Magna after the school is closed. She has a brief affair with Deek that marks the other great love of her life. When the affair ends, she becomes friends with Soane, Deek’s wife. With the encouragement of Lone DuPres, Connie discovers that she has a gift for “stepping in,” meaning she can manipulate the light inside a person to prolong their life or bring them back from death. Though she experiences a period of depression after Mary Magna’s death, she experiences a kind of rebirth late in life, where she becomes a spiritual leader of the women who have arrived at the Convent over the years and leads them in a ritual called “loud dreaming.”
Deacon “Deek” Steward
Deek is one of the founding fathers of Ruby, the son of Rector Morgan, the twin of Steward, the husband of Soane, and the brother of Ruby Morgan Smith. Deek and Steward view themselves as the leaders of Ruby, and control its bank. Throughout his life, Deek has never needed to look at his twin, as they have always been alike in thought and action. However, he diverges from his brother and their joint mission to build Ruby when he has an affair with Connie. He tries to stop Steward from shooting Connie when the men attack the Convent. After this, he becomes estranged from his brother. His sons, Easter and Scout, die in the Vietnam War.
Delia is the wife of Roger and mother of Patricia. Roger is the first in Ruby to break the unspoken rule against marrying light-skinned blacks. Delia is light enough that she can pass for white. As a consequence, she is discriminated against in Ruby. She dies in childbirth when the men of Ruby fail to seek medical care for her.
Divine “Dee Dee” Truelove
Dee Dee is Pallas’ artist mother, from whom Pallas is estranged. She begins sleeping with her daughter’s boyfriend, horrifying Pallas.
Dovey is the wife of Steward and the sister of Soane. Dovey and Steward have been unable to have children. Dovey is sometimes visited by someone she calls her “Friend.” Dovey is very close to her sister Soane, to the extent that she has felt that each of them is married to not one man but two, since Soane’s husband is Steward’s twin. However, the sisters grow apart after the raid on the Convent. Soane maintains that Steward shot Connie, whereas Dovey feels that it is unclear and takes the side of her husband.
Elder is the brother of Steward, Deek, and Ruby. He is greatly impacted by an event he witnesses returning from war: two white men violently assaulting a black prostitute on the streets of New York.
Frank is Mavis’ abusive husband. He purchases a Cadillac that becomes the mockery of their neighborhood, because the family otherwise lives in poverty.
Grace “Gigi” Gibson
Gigi is one of the women living at the Convent at the time that the men raid it. She arrives in Ruby several years earlier on a bus, causing a significant ruckus. She is a love object for K.D. and allows him to pursue her for two years, though she ultimately rejects his affections. Her father has been in prison since she was a child and she is haunted by the memory of a young black boy in a white shirt being shot during a demonstration at which she was present. She arrives in Ruby because a man on a train tells her that there is a pair of trees that grow intertwined near the town, promising an unimaginable ecstasy for those who squeeze between their trunks. Before that, she planned to meet her ex-lover Mikey at a rock formation that resembles a couple making love, though she is never able to find it. At the Convent Gigi clashes with Mavis and appears to have a romantic relationship with Seneca.
One of the founding fathers of Ruby and the father of Menus and Kate Jury. He owns the drug store.
Jean is a figure of Seneca’s past. Seneca believes her to be her sister, but Jean is in fact her mother. Jean abandons Seneca when she is five years old, leaving a note written in lipstick.
Jeff is the son of Arnold Fleetwood, the brother of Arnette, and the husband of Sweetie. All four of their children were born with severe, disabling illnesses that require constant care. He bears a lot of anger for this reason, although publicly that anger is attributed to his time serving in the war.
Coffee “K.D.” Smith
K.D. stands for “Kentucky Derby,” a nickname he earned after winning a horse race in Ruby as a child. His mother, Ruby Morgan Smith, is the town’s namesake. He is pursued by Arnette, and he impregnates her. Eventually they marry. First, he falls in love with Gigi, who indulges him to an extent but ultimately does not reciprocate his feelings. He is the object of a great deal of pressure because he is the last male in the Morgan line.
Lone is the midwife in Ruby. She was adopted as an orphan by the original group on their way to found Ruby, and was taken in by the DuPres family. She, like Soane, Anna, and Billie Delia, is sympathetic to the Convent women. She teaches Connie that she has special powers. She overhears the plot to raid the Convent and tries to stop the men.
Luther is one of the founding fathers of Ruby. Like Aaron Poole, however, he is motivated by virtue above pride.
Mable is the wife of Arnold and the mother of Jeff and Arnette. She assists Sweetie with the care of her sick children.
Mary Magna is a Catholic nun, later Mother Superior, who picks up Connie from the streets of Brazil and brings her to the school for Indian girls to which she is assigned. Mary Magna is the great love of Connie’s life. When she becomes ill, after the school has ceased to be a school, Connie uses her gift of “stepping in” to prolong her life, resulting in her unusual glow.
Mavis is one of the women living at the Convent at the time that the men of Ruby attack it. She is the first stranger to arrive at the Convent in the time after it has ceased to be a school, and she is the one who Connie recognizes most distinctly. At the beginning of the book she is a young mother in an abusive marriage. Her infant twins, Merle and Pearl, die in an accident after she leaves them in the car on a hot day while she purchases groceries. She fears that her husband and children are trying to kill her, which is why she runs away. Throughout her time at the Convent she believes she hears the voices of Merle and Pearl, who, to her, are still alive. She relishes the ways in which she grows in competence and confidence at the Convent.
Menus is the son of Harper Jury. He is part of the younger generation that worries the elders. He suffers from alcoholism, which is widely understood to be because of his time in Vietnam, but which Pat Best suggests is because he was forced to give up his intended bride because of Ruby’s prejudice against light-skinned blacks. He cuts hair in the back of Ace’s.
Mickey is Gigi’s ex, from whom she is separated after his arrest in a demonstration. He tells her about a rock formation that looks like a couple endlessly making love.
Milton is the father of Pallas, and is a wealthy entertainment lawyer.
Nathan is one of the founding fathers of Ruby, and believed to be the oldest person in town. He always gives the speech before the annual Christmas play. He owns the horse Hard Goods.
Pallas’ name recalls Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, justice, and war (Athena is often called by the epithet 'Pallas'). Pallas is a wealthy high school student who runs away with her boyfriend, Carlos, to live with her artist mother in New Mexico. She is gratified by Carlos’ attention because he is regarded in her school as very good-looking and she considers herself to be somewhat overweight. She is traumatized, however, when she discovers Carlos and her mother having sex. She runs away again, during which time she hides in a lake from a group of boys who chase her and possibly sexually assaulted her. She ends up at the hospital where Billie Delia works, and Billie Delia brings her to the Convent to recuperate. Pallas makes plans to leave the Convent several times, but always returns. She gives birth to a baby named ‘Divine’.
Pious is the first person whom Lone seeks out when she is trying to stop the men from attacking the Convent women. He feels strongly that the men have brought ruin and dishonor upon the town with their actions.
Rector “Big Daddy” Morgan
The father of Steward, Morgan, Elder, and Ruby Morgan; the son of Zechariah.
Reverend Richard Misner
Misner is the town’s newest arrival, a Baptist preacher at Mount Calvary. He is sympathetic to the young people of Ruby, and his progressive politics - drawing inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr., and participating in the civil rights movement - draws the ire of Ruby’s older generation. He clashes frequently with Reverend Pulliam and the Morgans. He is described as being very handsome. He becomes engaged to Anna Flood.
Reverend Senior Pulliam
Pulliam is the minister at the Methodist church in Ruby. He is part of the older conservative generation that believes the slogan on the Oven is and should remain 'Beware the Furrow of His Brow'. His sermon at the wedding of K.D. and Arnette angers Reverend Misner, as Pulliam says that love is not a right, but rather something that must be perpetually worked for and may never be earned.
Roger is the mother of Patricia and the husband of Delia. He is the first to break the town’s unofficial rule against marrying light-skinned outsiders. He runs an ambulance and mortuary business and hopes to open a gas station.
Ruby Morgan Smith
Ruby is the sister of Deek and Steward, and the mother of K.D. She passes away when her brothers are unable to obtain medical care for her during an emergency because of segregated hospitals. The town is named after her.
Seneca is one of the women living at the Convent at the time that it is raided by the men of Ruby. Her name evokes the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca, and suggests her capacity for withstanding great suffering. She is abandoned as a five-year-old by a woman she believed to be her sister, but who was in fact her mother. From there she enters foster homes, in one of which she is sexually assaulted. After her boyfriend goes to jail, she attempts, according to his demands, to raise money to get him out, but she is discouraged from doing so by her boyfriend’s mother. She accepts a mysterious offer of employment in a Wichita bus station, after which she hitchhikes around the country. One day she spots Sweetie Fleetwood on the road to the Convent, and, drawn to her suffering, Seneca jumps out and follows her.
Soane is the wife of Deek Steward and the sister of Dovey. Her sons, Easter and Scout, die while serving in the Vietnam War, a tragedy she continues to mourn; she believed they would be safer overseas than in the United States, outside of Ruby. She becomes aware of the affair that Deek conducts with Connie, and goes out to the Convent with the intention of intimidating Connie by asking for an abortion. Soane does not intend to have one, but she later loses the baby, and believes that it is because of the malice in her heart. When Connie saves her son Scout, the two women become close friends. Connie prepares “tonics” for Soane, and Soane invites the Convent women to the wedding. Soane becomes estranged from her sister because of their differing interpretations of what happened during the assault on the Convent.
Steward is the son of Rector Morgan, the brother of Deek, Elder, and Ruby, and the loving husband of Dovey. Throughout his life he and his twin live in unspoken unity. However, after the attack on the Convent, they disagree for the first time about what happened and why. Steward is very much concerned with maintaining the Morgans’ power in Ruby, in continuing the Morgan line, and in grooming K.D. to be as wealthy and powerful as himself and Deek. Steward has a strong idea of what a woman should be, and is disgusted by the prospect of streetwalkers, promiscuous women, and what the women at the Convent might be doing.
Tea is the forgotten twin of Zechariah “Big Papa” Morgan. His brother disowns him because Tea capitulates to the threats of white men, whereas Zechariah does not.
Zechariah “Big Papa” Morgan
Zechariah is one of the founding fathers of Haven, and the grandfather of Deek and Steward. He is thrown out of public office in Louisiana after the Civil War on spurious charges. Because of colorist prejudice against dark-skinned blacks, he is unable to find employment; this motivates him, alongside a group of other men, to found Haven, where Zechariah also helps construct the Oven and determine the slogan that is emblazed on it.
Paradise Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Paradise is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Paradise is a novel by Toni Morrison. The Paradise study guide contains a biography of author Toni Morrison, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.