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A Death in the Family

James Agee

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Rufus Follet -  Agee's incarnation in the novel, the son of Mary and Jay Follet. Rufus is perceptive and inquisitive and intelligent, and he greatly admires his father.

Read an in-depth analysis of Rufus Follet.

Jay Follet  -  Mary's husband and the father of Rufus and little Catherine. Mr. Follet is a big man and a gentle father. There are implications that he used to drink heavily.
Mary Follet  -  Jay's wife and the mother of Rufus and little Catherine. Mrs. Follet is sensitive, high-strung, and ardently religious.

Read an in-depth analysis of Mary Follet.

Little Catherine -  Rufus's younger sister. Little Catherine has a round face that gets red easily, and she sticks out her bottom lip when she is upset. She and Rufus frequently argue during the novel. Catherine has trouble understanding Jay's death. She is named after Mary's mother.
Joel Lynch -  Mary's father. Joel is a tough, pragmatic man who has little patience for or belief in religion. He feels, to some degree, that Mary has married beneath her, yet he remains very supportive of her.
Catherine Lynch  -  Mary's mother. Catherine is a very kind old lady with a tinkling laugh. She is very hard of hearing, and therefore must use an ear trumpet in order to hear anything.
Hannah Lynch  -  Mary's aunt and Joel's sister. Hannah, like Mary, is very religious, and she is calm, practical, and considerate.
Andrew Lynch -  Mary's brother. Andrew, unlike his sister, is not religious in the least.
Walter Starr -  A friend of Jay and Mary who is very kind to the children. Walter drives everyone everywhere in the novel, and at the end he invites Little Catherine and Rufus to come over and listen to his gramophone.
Father Jackson -  The priest who performs the funeral service for Jay. When Father Jackson first arrives at Mary's house, he reprimands Rufus and Little Catherine for being rude. Later, he refuses to read the complete burial service because Jay was never baptized.
Ralph Follet -  Jay's younger brother. Ralph is an alcoholic and a generally weak and whiny man. Most of his family members feel sorry for him because he is such a pathetic figure.
Grampa Follet -  Jay and Ralph's father. Grampa Follet was very burdensome to their mother, which frequently made Jay furious. Nonetheless, Jay believes that his father was a good-hearted man and always meant well. Jay has his fatal accident on the road to investigate Grampa Follet's alleged illness.
Great-Aunt Sadie -  Rufus's great-aunt on his father's side. Sadie has a failing memory, and she lives off in the woods with Rufus's great-great-grandmother.
Great-Great-Grandmother Follet -  Rufus's great-great-grandmother. The ancient Great-Great-Grandmother Follet smiles at Rufus when he goes to see her when he is very small. She has eyes like pieces of broken glass.
Victoria -  A black woman who helps deliver little Catherine. Rufus likes the way that Victoria smells.
Uncle Ted and Aunt Kate  -  A couple who are distant relatives of Mary and Jay. Kate has red hair; Ted has a joking nature. One time, Mary gets angry with Ted when he plays a joke on Rufus at dinner.

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