The Bonfire of the Vanities Characters
by Tom Wolfe
Sherman McCoyWall Street golden boy, scion of old W.A.S.P. money, and self-described "Master of the Universe," Sherman has it all. His education, his mistress Maria Ruskin, his social circle: all are elite. He is also clearly prejudiced along ethnic, religious, social, economic, gender and racial lines.
Judy McCoySherman's wife -- two years his senior. She has become the "social x-ray" style of Park Avenue wife. As soon as she knows of the possibility of Sherman's affair, she withdraws all affection.
Campbell McCoySherman and Judy's six-year-old daughter.
John Campbell McCoySherman McCoy's aging father. The former "lion" general partner of the law firm Dunning, Sponget, and Leach.
Celeste McCoySherman's aristocratic mother.
Thomas KillianExtremely slick, well-dressed, and fast-talking criminal defense lawyer for Sherman McCoy. He formerly worked in the District Attorney's office, but went into private practice to make money. His clients include the worst kind of rich criminals, including racketeers and drug dealers. A native Irish New Yorker, he attempts to redeem favors owed him by people in the criminal justice system to shield his clients.
Maria RuskinSherman McCoy's mistress. She is a working-class girl from South Carolina who has used her attrativeness to marry well. Her husband is the extremely wealthy and aged Arthur Ruskin.
Abe WeissJewish District Attorney for the borough of the Bronx. He is constantly angling for re-election, which nears as the novel begins. He is an excellent manipulator of the press, and cares far more about voter opinion than he does about justice. He has the gall, however, to pretend otherwise and to assume a idealistic tone with some of his employees. Larry Kramer is one of his assistant district attorneys, and Weiss directs him in the McCoy case.
Henry LambThe hit-and-run victim in the Sherman McCoy case. A high school student living in a housing project in the Bronx, he has managed to keep himself out of trouble and to stay in school. By the standards of his neighborhood, this makes him an honor student. Annie Lamb is his mother.
Mrs. Annie LambThe mother of Henry Lamb. She used to work for Reverend Bacon.
Peter FallowAn alcoholic, plagiarizing, sponging layabout reporter from The City Light who breaks the Lamb case when Al Vogel feeds him information. He is British, and despises all things American. His first name, Peter, may be a broad hint to his crying "wolf" about the "Lamb" case. His coverage of the McCoy case wins him a Pulitzer Prize.
Lawrence KramerThe Assistant DA assigned to the McCoy case. He is a fawning sycophant to DA Abe Weiss. His ultimate goals appear to be the advancement of his legal career and sexual conquests with women, not necessarily in that order. He is uneasy about his Jewish heritage and resists the responsibilities of family life.
Rhoda KramerThe wife of ADA Lawrence Kramer. She has recently given birth to their first child, Joshua.
Joshua KramerInfant son of Lawrence and Rhoda.
Detective MartinThe Irish cop half of the detective team of Martin and Goldberg. Kramer considers him the epitome of "Irish Masculinity."
Detective GoldbergThe Jewish detective assigned to the McCoy case. Kramer, who is Jewish himself, thinks he has become Irish by association with Martin.
Bernie FitzgibbonThe Irish head of the homocide unit of the office of the District Attorney.
Freddie ButtonSherman McCoy's family lawyer. He works for Sherman's father's firm, Dunning, Sponget, and Leach. His name may be an reference to Red Buttons, the American comedian.
Sir Gerald SteinerJewish-British publisher of The City Light. Called "The Dead Mouse" by Fallow and his cronies. An early parody of the Rupert Murdoch-style of British journalism tycoon. The name Steiner is derived from a German word meaning "stone," which may refer either to Sir Gerald's implacability, or to Fallow's assumption that Steiner is not very bright.
Gene LopwitzJewish head of the investment firm Pierce and Pierce. His name (lop-wits) is a crude reference to Wolfe's opinion of this type of Wall Street tycoon.
Al VogelA New York lawyer representing Henry Lamb in the McCoy case. He breaks the news to Peter Fallow, thus making the case public.
Filippo ChirazziA painter in the fashionable art world of New York. He is the paramour of Maria Ruskin and becomes her second husband.
Edward Fiske IIIA young man, of Ivy League education, employed by the Episcopalian Diocese of New York to check on its donations to Reverend Bacon.
Reverend BaconA Harlem minister who wields great power within his African-American community. He is the head of several shell or dummy organizations and corporations, through which he practices extortion and fraudulently obtains monetary donations. He, like Abe Weiss, is a master manipulator of the press. He takes up the McCoy case as a means to attack the white power structure of Manhattan. Bacon's name is a direct attack on the "pork-barrel" money he extorts from the white establishment.
Judge KovitzkyA older judge of uncompromising disposition, he is assigned to the McCoy case. He is the one official in the criminal justice system who is represented with wholly disinterested motivations.
QuigleyThe investigator employed by Thomas Killian on the McCoy case.
Arthur RuskinThe aged and very wealthy husband of Maria Ruskin. A Jewish man, he has made his fortune running charter flights for Muslims to make pilgimages to Mecca.
Shelly ThomasThe Girl with Brown Lipstick. A young woman on a criminal trial jury in the Bronx, with whom Lawrence Kramer attempts to have an affair.
The Bonfire of the Vanities Essays and Related Content
- The Bonfire of the Vanities: Major Themes
- The Bonfire of the Vanities: Essays
- The Bonfire of the Vanities: Questions
- The Bonfire of the Vanities: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Tom Wolfe: Biography
- The Bonfire of the Vanities Summary
- About The Bonfire of the Vanities
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Summary and Analysis of Prologue - "Mutt on Fire" and Chapter 1 - "The Master of the Universe"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 2 - "Gibraltar" and Chapter 3 - "From the Fiftieth Floor"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 4 - "King of the Jungle" and Chapter 5 - "The Girl with Brown Lipstick"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6 - "A Leader of the People" and Chapter 7 - "Catching the Fish"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 8 - "The Case" and Chapter 9 - "Some Brit Named Fallow"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 10 - "Saturday's Saturnine Lunchtime" and Chapter 11 - "The Words on the Floor"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 12 - "The Last of the Great Smokers" and Chapter 13 - "The Day-Glo Eel"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 14 - "I Don't Know How to Lie" and Chapter 15 - "The Masque of the Red Death"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 16 - "Tawkin Irish" and Chapter 17 - "The Favor Bank"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 18 - "Shuhmun" and Chapter 19 - "Donkey Loyalty"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 20 - "Calls from Above" and Chapter 21 - "The Fabulous Koala"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 22 - "Styrofoam Peanuts" and Chapter 23 - "Inside the Cavity"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 24 - "The Informants" and Chapter 25 - "We the Jury"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 26 - "Death New York Style" and Chapter 27 - "Hero of the Hive"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 28 - "Off to a Better Place" and Chapter 29 - "The Rendezvous"
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 30 - "An Able Pupil"; Chapter 31 - "Into the Solar Plexus" and Epilogue - "Financier Is Arraigned"
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