Entertaining God Characters

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Entertaining God Summary & Study Guide Description

Entertaining God Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Entertaining God by Alice Walker.


A 15-year-old black boy. He resembles his father, with very black skin a broad, flat nose and a backward-sloping forehead. John is very lean and has a gentleness to his face. He has been raised by a mother who hates his appearance and tries to disassociate herself from their blackness. John has become fixated on a gorilla at the Bronx zoo. He has no interest in his absentee father and looks upon him slightly condescendingly with impatience and pity. John cries and suffers due to the gorilla's captivity and forces him to escape. John makes him his "savage idol" and pays homage to him, presenting him with burnt offerings. John is killed by the gorilla.

John's father

Is about to be killed by a tornado; in the last moments of his life, he thinks about his first wife and their son. John's father is very black with the same broad, flat nose and backward-sloping forehead. John's father used to work at the post office but quit to be a hairdresser. He likes being around all sorts of women. He believes his carefree first wife changed after they married and became focused on trying to be and appear more respectable. The marriage was failing and John was too small to interest him all that much, so he left. John remarried a "sister in the Nation" and joined as a brother as well. He was always aggrieved at having only an X as his last name; it caused him to feel that he did not have his own identity, did not exist, and that his son would never be able to find him. John's father seeks out his son after ten years of not seeing him and is annoyed to find that John is more interested in going to the zoo than speaking to him. He feels he has lost his son. Through his beliefs he has finally finds peace with himself and accepts himself. He realizes this before he dies.

John's mother

Once a young, carefree, fun-loving woman who would dye her hair red. She married and attempted to be more respectable, to appear less black and more white. She hates her son's appearance and blames her husband for what he had "done to" her son, for she knows that her son's looks would be despised where they lived. After her son's death, she has a breakdown and spends some time in a sanitarium. A year after her release she cuts off her hair and wears African-print dresses and hoop earrings and makes small scarification marks on her cheeks. She becomes a radical black poet. She sees her poetry as a way to right past transgressions with her son.

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