- Helen: A hardened, working class single mother and alcoholic.
- Josephine, her daughter: A teenage girl, known as 'Jo', raised solely by Helen.
- Peter: Helen's younger, wealthy boyfriend from London.
- The Boy: Also known as Jimmy, a black sailor, Jo falls in love with him and becomes pregnant.
- Geoffrey: An art student in his early twenties who becomes Jo's roommate and friend.
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