Lauren Olamina

The novel’s narrator and protagonist. Lauren is a Black teenager living in a modern-day dystopia. She creates and establishes Earthseed, a belief system based on the idea that God is change. Armed with her convictions, and afflicted with hyperempathy, a syndrome that enables her to feel the pain and pleasure of others, she flees a rapidly crumbling landscape with the sole intent of founding the first Earthseed community. Throughout the harrowing journey, she fights to make her voice heard and ultimately earns the respect and devotion of those who share in her hopeful vision of humanity’s future.

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Reverend Olamina

A Baptist teacher and Lauren Olamina’s father. Reverend Olamina is a leader in the community and devoted to protecting, educating, and preparing his neighbors amid a world mired in chaos. While he and Lauren disagree on matters of faith and discipline, the influence he has on Lauren is undeniable. His disappearance and presumed death marks a turning point for Lauren, who adopts his selfless approach to survival, emphasizing the importance of group over the individual.

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Taylor Franklin Bankole

A 57-year-old Black doctor who joins Lauren’s group of travelers. Bankole left tragedy in San Diego to make his way to Northern California in a parallel journey to Lauren’s. He’s drawn to Lauren’s benevolence when witnessing her helping those in need, and eventually falls in love with her despite their age difference. There are noted similarities between himself and Reverend Olamina, but Bankole’s experience and historical perspective prove valuable to Lauren and the group as they navigate an anarchic landscape. As well as being Lauren’s lover, Bankole is also her intellectual match.

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Harry Balter

A young white man and longtime friend of Lauren’s. Like Lauren, Harry survived the massacre in their community and, along with Zahra Moss, joins Lauren. Harry possesses a compassionate will, but his strong sense of morality and skeptical nature at times creates discord within the group. He relishes his role as protector and shows he’s not afraid to kill.

Zahra Moss

A young Black woman who was purchased by her husband Richard Moss. Like Lauren and Harry, Zahra escapes the carnage of their community and shows an innate ability to navigate the cutthroat world outside having been homeless until the age of 15. Though illiterate, Zaire’s street smarts allow the trio to endure.

Cory Olamina

Lauren’s Mexican-American stepmother and Reverend Olamina’s second wife. A teacher for the neighborhood’s children, Cory has four sons with the reverend of which Keith Olamina is her favorite. Her view that Reverend Olamina favors Lauren over Keith drives a wedge between Cory and her husband. Ultimately, she perishes along with three of her sons when the neighborhood burns.

Keith Olamina

Lauren’s eldest half-brother. He and Lauren share a dislike for each other that simmers until Keith’s torture and murder. His arrogant and unrelenting desire to prove himself a man leads to a life of crime outside the neighborhood’s walls, causing irreparable rifts within the family. 

Joanne Garfield

Lauren’s white friend from childhood and Harry Balter’s girlfriend. While intelligent and compassionate, Joanne lives in a state of denial, which strains her relationship with Lauren. Joanne is unable to accept the chaotic reality of the world around her and winds up moving into a company-controlled town with her family.

Travis Charles Douglas

A Black man who joins Lauren’s group of travelers, and whom she considers her first Earthseed convert. A fiercely smart and inquisitive individual, Travis joins Lauren on her journey with his wife and infant son. His genuine interest in Earthseed spawns numerous conversations with Lauren about her faith’s tenets, leading to his eventual conversion.

Natividad Douglas

The Hispanic wife of Travis Douglas, and mother to Dominic. Natividad’s maternal instincts are an asset to the group on their journey northward. As a maid, she was a victim of sexual harassment but had the sense and wherewithal to divest herself of the situation, revealing an inner strength.

Allie Gilchrist

A 24-year-old white woman rescued by Lauren and her group. Allie was forced into prostitution by her pimp father who also killed her baby son, Adam. In a show of retribution, Allie and her sister Jill burned the house down with their passed-out father inside. The close bond Allie develops with Justin Rohr allows her to heal from the death of her own child. 

Jill Gilchrist

A 25-year-old white woman rescued by Lauren and her group. Like her sister Allie, Jill was also forced into sexual slavery by their father. However, she dies a hero and a martyr for the cause when she’s shot in the back running little Tori Solis to safety.

Emery Tanaka Solis

A 23-year-old mixed-race woman and former debt slave. Emery has experienced unspeakable trauma, having lost her husband and two sons, but exhibits resilience and courage in escaping with her young daughter Tori. The bond she develops with Grayson Mora is tied to their shared trauma and hyperempathy.

Grayson Mora

A half-Black, half-Latino man and father to Doe Mora. Grayson is a hyperempathetic runaway slave who joins the group when his daughter Doe and Emery’s daughter Tori befriend one another. His petulance and aloof nature draw suspicions, but the group accepts him after witnessing the display of love and affection toward his daughter.

Justin Rohr

A toddler rescued by Bankole after his mother dies in a gunfight. Though a rambunctious child, Justin is plenty charming and is able to disarm potentially volatile situations with strangers on their journey. His very existence gives meaning and purpose to Allie Gilchrist’s life.

Curtis Talcott

Lauren’s childhood boyfriend. Curtis shares Lauren’s desire to flee their neighborhood confines but assents to gender constructs that Lauren opposes. He’s killed in the neighborhood melee. Lauren’s relationship with Curtis is contrasted with Bankole’s relationship with his wife after Lauren and Bankole make love.