Caleb’s Crossing Major Character Analysis

Geraldine Brooks

Caleb’s Crossing

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Caleb’s Crossing Major Character Analysis

Minister Mayfield

Bethia’s father, the minister, is a stern but somewhat progressive figure. Unlike many other settlers, he seeks to convert the Indians rather than drive them off. However, after his wife’s death he becomes more severe and radical, trying to seek converts through fire and brimstone preaching. He ultimately dies at sea on a mission to win support for his work in England.

Bethia’s Grandfather

Bethia’s grandfather actually settled the village Bethia grows up in after purchasing a patent for part of the island. Like his son, he is progressive in his attitudes toward the Indians, though he did exploit them for the land. Many think of him as a penny pincher who would rather indenture his granddaughter than use up his savings.


Tequamuck is a pawaaw, what some what could a “shaman” or “witchdoctor.” He is a spiritual leader and healer amongst the Wompanoag. He is also Caleb’s uncle and, at one point, initiates Caleb into his occult knowledge. He breaks his ties with Caleb after Caleb’s conversion. A great rival of Bethia’s father, many blame this pawaaw for casting a spell to sink the ship. He ultimately resigns himself to the fact that the English and their God will dominate, but he refuses to abandon his people or his faith.


Caleb is the novel’s central figure aside from Bethia. He is interested in learning both the Christian, English ways and the ways of his own people. Ultimately, though, he chooses to live among the settlers in order to gain the greatest knowledge. He is both a skilled woodsman and an impressive learner. She believes that his skills of studying and imitating the natural world prove to his advantage when pursuing more modern knowledge.


Joel is the son of Iacoomis, Bethia’s father’s first convert. Like Iacoomis, Joel is not the impressive physical specimen that Caleb is. Joel is even somewhat heavy and weak. Nonetheless, he is an impressive learner, even more so than Caleb. He is ultimately the valedictorian at Harvard, although his life is cut short by an accident before he can receive the honor.


Makepeace is not always an admirable character. He…

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