37 pages 1 hour read

James Baldwin

The Amen Corner

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1954

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Character Analysis

Margaret Alexander

Margaret is the protagonist of The Amen Corner. She is mother to 18-year-old David and the estranged wife of Luke, a musician. When readers are first introduced to Margaret, she is a spirited and pious preacher who looks down from the pulpit on all who live lives she deems unholy. She lies to her congregation by saying that she was left by her husband and got a vision from the Lord that told her to find “a hiding place” (59). She found that hiding place in a church in Harlem, where she worked to remove the previous pastor, Elder King. She appears condescending and self-righteous, such as when telling Brother Boxer that he shouldn’t drive a liquor truck to make a living.

A different side of Margaret is revealed when Luke comes to see her. She has not always been as God-fearing as she is now. Margaret claims that the Holy Ghost changed her, but Luke refuses to believe that the old Margaret is truly gone. The reader sees a more youthful Margaret through his eyes: “Then that other woman—that funny, fast-talking, fiery little thing I used to hold in my arms—He done done away with her?” (58).