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Charlie Feehan is the central character and protagonist of the story. He is an adventurous and courageous boy who was forced to mature quickly when his father's untimely death left him, his brother, and his mother all alone. Charlie is a hard-worker and labors day and night to put food on the table and keep his family warm. He doesn't think much of school so when he got the chance to get a job with Squizzy Taylor, he quickly jumped at it. It is clear to identify that Charlie is determined, a bit naive, and always puts his family first, even if it means hiding the truth from them. During his mother's illness, he couldn't handle being close to her, but eventually returned to his loyal and caring personality.
Norman "Nostrils" Heath has a big nose and a big heart. He is honest, humorous, and loyal, quickly becoming Charlie's closest friend, something Charlie has never really experienced. Norman guides Charlie through their friendship and forges an iron bond with him, leading to a relationship that will survive the test of numerous challenges.
Squizzy Taylor is a local gangster and takes Charlie under his wing. He seems smart and compassionate, offering Charlie many favors and guiding him through his work. However, when quarrels with other gang leaders ensue and quickly turn deadly, a new side of Squizzy emerges from the shadows. His drunken, short-tempered, and murderous personality make the reader ponder about who he truly is.
Ma is the mother of the main character Charlie and his baby brother Jack. She is a middle-aged lady who is constantly grief-ridden from her husbands death. Despite these tragic circumstances and the horrid conditions they live in, Ma is a loving and hard-working character with a sensitive and kind-natured personality who stays strong for her two boys.
Mr. Cecil Redmond
Mr. Cecil Redmond is the kindly neighbor of the Feehans. He has a big heart and an even bigger imagination and helps guide Charlie through many aspects of his life. Sometimes acting as the father figure Charlie never had, Mr. Redmond's kindness allows him to steer Charlie in the right direction when Charlie has difficulty maturing and obtaining success in his pursuits.
Mrs. Redmond is Mr. Redmond's wife and also lives next to the Feehans. Throughout the entirety of the novel, she is a kind and thoughtful person who is always eager to help the Feehans with some of the necessities they need, including wood to keep warm and food to stay alive. Mrs. Redmond has a friendly personality and offers much-needed company.
Jack is the younger brother of Charlie Feehan and son of Ma.
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