Dr. John Prentice, played by Sidney Poitier, is the fiancee of Joey Drayton. Throughout the film John carries an anxiety about the reception of his interracial relationship. Prentice embodies a great contextual understanding of the US but also deeper progressive view of the way things should be.
Joanna (Joey) Drayton
Joanna (Joey) Drayton, a twenty-three year old student, is engaged to Dr. John Prentice and is the daughter of Matt and Christina Drayton. Her deep belief in racial equality gives her a naiveté approach to life. Joanna represents a generation that directly challenged the conventions of race expectations that would continually challenge her relationship with John.
Matt Drayton, played by Spencer Tracy, is the liberal father of Joey and husband of Christina. Matt has lived a lifestyle that supports true social equality and instilled those values in his daughter. When he is forced to live up to these values, when Joey asks for his approval of her marriage, he undergoes intense personal conflict. The process that Matt is forced to go through in one short afternoon mirrors that vast changes that were gripping the country during the 1960’s.
Katharine Hepburn plays Christina Drayton, the mother of Joey. Christina like her husband, leads a liberal lifestyle that comes into conflict when Joey presents to her an unexpected proposition of marriage to a black man. Her ability to quickly dissolve any worries about the relationship shows her ability to look at the situation on a intimate level. This causes a rift between her and husband, which forces to them fundamentally evaluate their views and beliefs.
(Beah Ricahards and Roy Glenn)
Johns parents, played by Beah Richards and Roy Glenn, stand as the other parental viewpoint to compare with the Draytons. Both Mr. and Mrs. Prentice are shocked and worried about their sons marriage to a white woman but take more extreme stances. The motherly life personified by Christina is over exuded in Mrs. Prentice who see’s her sons feelings as the only factor in condoning the marriage. Similarly, the conflict felt by Matt is shared by Mr. Prentice only his feelings are more highly contested.