The intoxicated man at the house party is never identified by name in the first short story, "The Intoxicated." He knows the family well enough to leave the party and rest in the kitchen, but not well enough to deserve to pass out on their couch.
The intoxicated man becomes involved, unwillingly, in a conversation about the future of the world with the host's daughter. He resents her earnestness and insistence upon continuing the conversation, attempting to belittle her by making generalizations about how girls in his generation behaved and how she should behave.
In "The Intoxicated," Eileen is the 17-year-old daughter of the party's host and hostess. She is a senior in high school, having taken a year off when she was afflicted with pneumonia.
During the party, Eileen is working on a paper regarding the future of the world. She believes that the world has no future, given the manner in which it is currently progressing. Nonetheless, she does not make an effort to change the state of the world; in fact, she admits that she still completes her homework every night.
The party host in "The Intoxicated" chats briefly with the intoxicated guest at the end of the short story. He commiserates with his guest about his daughter, Eileen, and her attitude about life.
narrator of "The Daemon Lover"
The narrator is a 34-year-old woman who is supposedly engaged to Jamie Harris. She is extremely critical of her own appearance and hyperaware of how she may be perceived by others. This causes her to be extremely indecisive about what dress to wear on her wedding day.
As the story progresses, the reader begins to doubt the credibility of the narrator's point of view. James Harris only exists in her fantasies about the future or in her memories. The people she encounters, as she searches for Harris, do not corroborate Harris's existence. At the end of the story, when the narrator hears voices and laughter emanating from an abandoned house, she appears to be unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
James Harris, in "The Daemon Lover"
James Harris is engaged to the narrator of "The Daemon Lover." He is a writer who wears a blue suit, and he lives in an apartment building several blocks downtown from the narrator. He promises her that he will arrive at her apartment at 10:00 in the morning for their wedding. However, he never shows up. Ultimately, his very existence is doubtful, for only the narrator verifies his existence, and her sanity is also doubtful.
In "The Daemon Lover," the superintendent cannot offer the narrator any information about a tenant named James Harris. He quickly dismisses the narrator after asking his wife to confirm whether a Mr. Harris has ever lived in their building.
Margie is the superintendent's wife in "The Daemon Lover." She displays more sympathy than her husband does towards the narrator's predicament, when the narrator arrives at their doorstep inquiring about Jamie Harris's whereabouts. Margie tells the narrator that a subletter stayed in a third-floor apartment and directs her there.
Mr. and Mrs. Royster
Mr. and Mrs. Royster are the inhabitants of the third-floor apartment, in which the narrator is led to believe that Mr. Harris has lived. While they do confirm that they had a male visitor staying at their apartment, the Roysters cannot confirm his name. Their visitor was a friend of a friend, and Mr. Royster begins to bicker with his wife about the visitor.
Mrs. Royster displays more patience than her husband towards the narrator. She tells the narrator to ask the superintendent for help.
The deli man sits behind the counter at the delicatessen near the building that is believed to be James Harris's apartment. He is unable to offer the narrator any tips on Mr. Harris's wherabouts.
The man selling newspapers at the newsstand initially does not seem to have any answer to the narrator's questions regarding Jamie's whearabouts. However, when another man steps in line behind her, the newsstand man becomes more agreeable. He humors the narrator's questions and says that he might have seen Jamie Harris heading uptown.
The florist encounters the narrator when she enters his shop to ask if Jamie Harris stopped to purchase any flowers, or if he has seen Mr. Harris at any time during the morning. The florist is rather annoyed by the narrator's desperate but vague questions. He is unable to help her and becomes even less helpful when she refuses his attempts to sell her flowers.
old man at shoeshine stand
The old man at the shoeshine stand is the first person to potentially validate Jamie Harris's existence. He claims that he spotted a man matching Jamie's description, and given the young man's demeanor, the shoeshine stand man assumed he was on his way to a lover.
The drugstore clerk is unable to offer the narrator any information about Mr. Harris and has not seen him.
woman outside of house
The woman sitting outside of a house has two children - a baby and a twelve-year-old son. She has not seen James Harris, as she was too busy with the children.
The twelve-year-old boy is the only other person (aside from the old shoeshine stand man) to corroborate Jamie Harris's existence. He tells the narrator that he has seen a man with flowers going into a house on the block. Then, the boy insistently asks the narrator if she will divorce the man whom she is seeking.
David Turner is the protagonist of "Like Mother Used to Make." He enjoys his domestic responsibilities and takes great pride and happiness in the maintenance of his apartment. David prepares dinner for his neighbor, Marcia, but finds himself subtly pushed out of his apartment. He ultimately loses his home, and in the process, a firm grip on his identity.
In "Like Mother Used to Make," the clerk responds brusquely to David Turner and annoys him.
Marcia is David Turner's neighbor in "Like Mother Used to Make." She is a young unmarried woman, portrayed as being rather rude and irresponsible. Her apartment is unkempt and cluttered, unlike David's apartment. She arrives late to the dinner he has prepared for her, and she is frequently late in paying rent.
Marcia allows an unexpected visitor, Mr. Harris, to join her and David for dinner. When Harris arrives, she pretends that David's apartment is her own and thus coerces David into playing along with her charade.
Mr. Harris ("Like Mother Used to Make")
Mr. Harris, in "Like Mother Used to Make," is Marcia's co-worker. He interrupts her dinner with David and rudely makes himself quite at home. Mr. Harris does not realize that he is in David's apartment, and neither David nor Marcia corrects him. As a result, Mr. Harris assumes that they are sitting in Marcia's apartment and that she has prepared the dinner and baked the cherry pie.
In "Trial by Combat," Emily Johnson is a young woman who has recently moved into a new building. Her husband is in the army, so Emily lives in her apartment alone. She discovers that small items from her room are being pilfered and suspects that she knows the culprit. However, Emily is unable to bring herself to confront the culprit, Mrs. Allen, directly.
In "Trial by Combat," Mrs. Allen is Emily's downstairs neighbor and also the thief. She tells Emily that all of the building keys fit into all of the doors. Thus, Mrs. Allen is able to steal small items - handkerchiefs, inexpensive jewelry - from Emily's room. When Mrs. Allen's husband was alive, he was also in the army. The couple had no children, but Mrs. Allen has nieces and nephews.
In "The Villager," Hilda Clarence is a woman from a small town who moved to New York to become a dancer. However, to support herself upon arrival, she became a stenographer and eventually gave up on her original ambitions.
She goes to the Robertses' apartment in hopes of buying some of their furniture. However, the Robertses are not home. When another potential buyer comes, Hilda pretends to be Mrs. Roberts.
In "The Villager," Nancy Roberts leaves a note to Hilda Clarence to tell her that she will not be home, but Hilda is welcome to enter the apartment and look at the furniture.
Arthur Roberts calls his apartment, looking for his wife, but Hilda Clarence answers. He informs her that they are leaving the apartment because he has received an opportunity to move to Paris.
Mr. Harris (from "The Villager")
In "The Villager," Mr. Harris is another person who comes to the Roberts apartment to look at their furniture. He does not find any furniture that he likes, but he does meet Miss Clarence. Mr. Harris assumes that Miss Clarence is Mrs. Roberts, given that she is the only person in the apartment when he enters. Miss Clarence does not correct him.
narrator ("My Life with R. H. Macy")
The narrator describes her first two days working at Macy's. The highly impersonal company segregates her into her working group and assigns her many numbers, including an ID number. The narrator keenly feels that she is a faceless employee, only a number to Macy's. After her second day, she quits her job.
"Miss Cooper" is the generic name assigned to the many interchangeable Macy's employees whom the narrator encounters in "My Life with R. H. Macy."
Johnny ("The Witch")
Johnny is a young boy (four years old), who finds himself extremely bored on a train ride with his mother and baby sister. However, he encounters a mysterious elderly man, whose pleasant and polite conversation quickly turns horrific. Johnny, however, is unperturbed by the man's description of murdering his younger sister.
mother ("The Witch")
The mother, on the train ride, must constantly pay attention to her infant daughter, who is seated precariously. She is too weary to respond to Johnny's constant questions and observations. Initially, the mother does not mind when the elderly man sits next to Johnny and talks to him. However, as the conversation progresses, the mother is horrified by the elderly man's description of murdering his sister. She demands that the man leave, and afterwards, she assures Johnny that the man was only joking.
elderly man ("The Witch")
Partway through Johnny's journey, this elderly man enters the train coach and begins to talk to Johnny. He humors Johnny's outrageous answers to simple questions about his name and age. When Johnny lies about his baby sister's age, the elderly man tells Johnny about how he murdered his own little sister, chopped up her body, and fed her head to a bear. Johnny surmises that the elderly man is a witch.
Judy is Mrs. Walpole's daughter and Jack's twin sister.
Jack is Mrs. Walpole's son and Judy's twin brother.
Mrs. Walpole is the protagonist of "The Renegade." She finds herself bogged down by the boredom of country life. Every morning, she must ensure that her children eat breakfast and leave for school on time, and prepare breakfast for her husband before she can consider her own needs.
Mrs. Walpole learns that the family dog, Lady, has been killing chickens. She is horrified to learn that the entire neighborhood is discussing methods of dealing with Lady, including killing the dog.
In "The Renegade," Mr. Walpole is a dismissive and uncaring husband. He does not pay much attention to his wife and makes only a very brief appearance in the short story.
woman on the phone ("The Renegade")
Mrs. Walpole receives a call from a woman, who informs her that Lady has been killing chickens. The woman sounds aggressive on the phone and insists that Mrs. Walpole address the problem, possibly by killing Lady.
Joe White is the Walpoles' neighbor, and though they were previously on friendly terms, Mrs. Walpole learns that Mr. White identified the chicken-killer as Lady.
When Mrs. Walpole runs into Mr. White, he suggests that she tie a dead chicken around Lady's neck to cure her of her bad habit.
Mrs. Nash is another neighbor of the Walpoles. She hears the town gossip about Lady, even before Mrs. Walpole tells her about the phone call she received. She offers Mrs. Walpole freshly baked doughnuts and is the epitome of a proper domestic wife.
Mr. Kittredge is the town's grocer and is in conversation with another man, when Mrs. Walpole interrupts them. He has also heard the town gossip about Lady before Mrs. Walpole's arrival. He offers her recommendations as to how to handle Lady's problem.
man talking to Mr. Kittredge
The man talking to Mr. Kittredge, though he does not know Mrs. Walpole personally, also offers suggestions as to how to handle Lady.
Though Mr. Shepard does not personally appear in the story, Judy and Jack Walpole return home and tell their mother about his suggestion regarding Lady. He tells the children that they should fit Lady with a spiked collar, and when she runs towards chickens, jerk the collar so that she is decapitated.
Mrs. Wilson is a housewife and has a son named Johnny. When he brings home his African American friend, Boyd, Mrs. Wilson immediately makes assumptions about Boyd's family background and wealth. She offers him secondhand clothes and becomes angry (masked as disappointment) when Boyd politely declines her charity.
Johnny Wilson is a young boy who befriends another boy named Boyd. He unwittingly thwarts his mother's attempts to make condescending assumptions regarding Boyd's family.
Boyd is an extremely well-mannered African American boy, and he is friends with Johnny. Boyd's father is a factory foreman, and his mother is a housewife, like Mrs. Wilson. His sister plans to become a teacher.
The narrator of this short story has a family - a husband, an infant, and a young son named Laurie. She is eager to attend Laurie's PTA meetings at school to meet the mother of Laurie's wild classmate, Charles.
The narrator's husband is also amused by the antics of Charlie, as described by their son Charles.
Laurie is the son of the narrator in "Charles." He is attending kindergarten and often returns home with outlandish stories about the actions of his classmate, Charles. Laurie relishes telling his parents about Charles's misbehavior.
Charles is most likely Laurie's imaginary alter-ego. Charles's actions are indeed Laurie's, though his parents do not realize this until the narrator meets Laurie's schoolteacher.
The teacher is Laurie's kindergarten teacher and informs his mother, at a PTA meeting, that she does not have a student named Charles. This reveals that Laurie has lied to his parents about his classmate. In addition, the teacher's diplomatic description of Laurie hints that he is indeed the class troublemaker.
Mrs. Kator is visiting with the Lennon family, along with her son Howard. She is eager to listen to Harriet's poetry, especially since Harriet refuses to play the piano for the guests.
Howard Kator is a young boy who plays the piano. He entertains his mother and the Lennon family. However, Harriet knows that Howard will make fun of her with other children when he learns that she writes poetry.
Mrs. Lennon is Harriet's grandmother, and she urges Harriet to play the piano for the Kators. However, Harriet refuses and Mrs. Lennon assumes she is too shy.
Harriet Lennon is a ten-year-old girl who chooses not to play along with the adults' shared, but unnamed, desire to show off their children. When her grandmother forces her to reveal her private poetry to the Kators, Harriet rebels by saying that she plagiarized.
Harriet's grandmother insists that Harriet show the Kators her poetry. When Harriet refuses to read the poems aloud, her grandmother does so in her stead.
Mrs. Helen Winning
Mrs. Winning is a discontent, middle-aged woman who lives with her husband's family in their Vermont family manor. She is heavily influenced by the small-minded community, but does take advantage of her husband's family reputation to bully other wives in the neighborhood.
Mrs. Winning has two young children and wishes that they were as affectionate towards her as Mrs. MacLane's son is to Mrs. MacLane. She also envies Mrs. MacLane's beautiful cottage. However, when the town turns against Mrs. MacLane, Mrs. Winning follows suit.
Mrs. Winning (elder)
Mrs. Winning is Helen's mother-in-law. She greatly enjoys her status as belonging to one of the more prominent families in the Vermont community. She urges Helen to influence Mrs. MacLane and prevent her from hiring Mr. Jones as a gardener.
Tom ("Flower Garden")
Tom is the town grocer, and Helen Winning, as a young girl, once hoped to marry him. He provides her with the news that the MacLane family is moving into the empty cottage.
Davey William MacLane
Davey is Mrs. MacLane's young son; he is greatly affectionate towards his mother. He befriends Mrs. Winning's son, Howard.
After the death of her husband in a car accident, Mrs. MacLane moves her family into the empty cottage in the Vermont community. She is an open-minded woman, unlike the more racist inhabitants of the town. Mrs. MacLane employs Mr. Jones, an African American man, as her gardener. However, this action causes her to be shunned by the entire town. Eventually, she decides to move away after her garden is completely destroyed by a neighbor's tree during a summer thunderstorm.
Howard Winning Sr.
Howard Winning Sr. is Helen's father-in-law.
Howard Winning Jr.
Howard Winning Jr. is Helen's husband. He is not particularly attentive or affectionate with her.
Howard ("Flower Garden")
Howard is Mrs. Winning's son, and she wishes that he cared about her as openly as Davey cares about his mother, Mrs. MacLane.
Mr. and Mrs. Burton
The Burtons are Mrs. MacLane's neighbors. Their tree collapses onto her garden, destroying it, but they are cold and unhelpful towards her. Furthermore, Mrs. Burton asks Mrs. Winning if she can avoid inviting Mrs. MacLane's son to a birthday party. Mrs. Burton is one of the townspeople who shun Mrs. MacLane and Davey for hiring Mr. Jones.
Billy Jones is a young boy who is teased by Howard and Davey for being half-African American. However, Mrs. MacLane takes a liking to him and offers him a job working in her garden.
Mr. Jones is Billy's father, and since Billy is so young, he offers to work for Mrs. MacLane instead. He is an industrious employee and helps her cultivate a beautiful garden. However, because Mr. Jones is African American, Mrs. MacLane is ostracized by the community.
Mrs. Harris ("Flower Garden")
Mrs. Harris is a minor character in the short story. She once worked for the Winning family and joins the community in ostracizing Mrs. MacLane.
narrator ("Dorothy and My Grandmother and the Sailors")
The narrator, like Shirley Jackson, grows up in Burlingame, near San Francisco. Every year, the narrator makes an excursion to San Francisco with her friend Dorothy and her mother and grandmother to buy a new coat. However, her mother and grandmother always make sure to warn her against interacting with sailors.
Dorothy is the narrator's best friend. She accompanies the narrator and her family on trips to San Francisco. Dorothy is susceptible to the fears regarding sailors, inculcated in her by the narrator's family. She is unable to handle the stress of being in the proximity of sailors and becomes nearly hysterical.
narrator's mother ("Dorothy and My Grandmother and the Sailors")
The narrator's mother warns her repeatedly about the dangers of meeting sailors. She accompanies the narrator on trips to San Francisco. When they visit the fleet with the narrator's uncle, the mother becomes alarmed when the narrator meets a sailor.
grandmother ("Dorothy and My Grandmother and the Sailors")
Like the mother, the narrator's grandmother also makes dire predictions about the outcome of meeting sailors. She accompanies them on their trips to San Francisco and disapproves of all of the sailors they encounter.
Uncle Oliver is the narrator's uncle, and he accompanies the women on their trips to the fleet. He worked as a radio operator on battleships and greatly enjoys sharing his experiences with the men he meets on the ships.
The captain finds the narrator when she gets lost on the ship. He is extremely polite and brings her back to her family.
Two sailors sit down next to the narrator and Dorothy, only because those are the only available seats in the theater. However, they terrify Dorothy and the girls retreat to a cafe, along with the narrator's mother and grandmother. At the cafe, more sailors happen to enter and further alarm the women.
the doctor ("Colloquy")
The doctor sees Mrs. Arnold but is unable to relieve her of her concerns. Instead, he heightens her hysteria. By using the contemporary terminology that Mrs. Arnold does not understand, the doctor reveals that he does not comprehend her problem and is in fact part of it.
Mrs. Arnold seeks a doctor to express her alarm about the state of the world. She is particularly concerned after witnessing her husband's unnatural overreaction to not receiving his daily paper. However, Mrs. Arnold is unable to seek solace in the doctor's clinical and impersonal response.
Elizabeth works in a literary agency with her boss and lover, Robert Shax. She is not particularly happy with her life. She comes from a small town and moved to New York in hopes of becoming successful. Thus, Elizabeth seeks to distance herself from her family and is dismissive of their correspondence with her.
She constantly fantasizes about a better life, a better apartment, a better relationship, and so on. However, Elizabeth feels threatened when Shax hires a younger and prettier woman to work as a receptionist in their office.
Mrs. Anderson ("Elizabeth")
Mrs. Anderson, Elizabeth's neighbor, complains about tripping over skis left out in the hallway.
old woman ("Elizabeth")
The old woman is another of Elizabeth's neighbors, and she tells Elizabeth that she has noticed her male caller entering and exiting the apartment building late at night. This woman and Mrs. Anderson perhaps represent the future that Elizabeth hopes to avoid.
Tommy is the drugstore clerk, who is also an aspiring writer. However, he does not submit his manuscript to Elizabeth for review. This snub greatly offends Elizabeth.
woman at the bus ("Elizabeth")
While waiting to board the bus, Elizabeth forcefully shoves a woman, since she is in a bad mood from Tommy's snub. The woman reacts to the shove and complains about people like Elizabeth throughout the bus ride.
The elevator operator works at Elizabeth's building. While they maintain friendly terms, the operator has witnessed the ups and downs of Elizabeth's relationship with Robert.
Daphne Hill is the young, attractive receptionist newly hired by Robert. She is eager to please, as this is her first job. She has moved to New York with her father. However, Elizabeth does not like Daphne and fires her after her first day.
Robert Shax runs a modest and relatively unsuccessful literary agency. He is romantically involved with his employee, Elizabeth, and is too afraid to tell her that he has hired an attractive receptionist. Robert is not particularly glamorous or inspiring; he performs poorly in client meetings and worries about his physical appearance. Elizabeth is not happy with him, professionally or personally.
Robert Hunt is Elizabeth's uncle, who is visiting New York with his family and hopes to see her. However, she declines his dinner invitation. Sharing the name of Elizabeth's boss and lover, both Roberts represent to Elizabeth a lifestyle that she wants to shun in favor of a more interesting, successful, and glamorous life.
Jim Harris ("Elizabeth")
Jim Harris is one of the few successful writers produced by Shax's literary agency. His autograph is framed on Robert's office wall. Elizabeth calls him and insists that he have dinner with her that very night. She believes that with Harris's assistance, she will be able to transform her life for the better.
Mrs. Concord has three adult children: Helen, Charlie, and Nancy. Charlie is in the army, and his friend is Bobby Friedman. Mrs. Concord's husband is a high school teacher, and she moved to their current town from the West when she married him.
Helen Concord is Charlie's sister, and she joins her mother and Mrs. Friedman in their conversation. She enjoys sewing with her mother.
Mrs. Friedman is the mother of Bob Friedman, who is in the army with Charlie Concord. Her husband is the founding partner of a prominent law firm.
Mrs. Wilkins plays hostess to Mrs. Straw, her guest, and takes her to a well-known restaurant that she has visited before. She is extremely picky with regard to the restaurant's seating options, reputation, and entertainment. Mrs. Wilkins is greatly offended by the foul-mouthed dummy, brought to life by the drunk ventriloquist, and slaps the dummy.
Mrs. Straw, Mrs. Wilkins's guest, is more pleasant and easy-going. She does not mind the seat the headwaiter gives them in the restaurant. In addition, she does not react as strongly as Mrs. Wilkins to the dummy.
headwaiter ("The Dummy")
The headwaiter shows Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Straw to their table, near the back of the restaurant.
unnamed girl ("The Dummy")
The girl enters the restaurant wearing an extremely noticeable dress, upon which Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Straw comment immediately. She sits with the ventriloquist and is acknowledged by the ballroom dancers, who are the first entertainment act. The girl tells the ventriloquist to stop drinking, and they argue about it.
The ventriloquist is an unimpressive man whose entertainment act is predictable and not particularly humorous. He uses a dummy, which is an exact miniature replica of himself. The ventriloquist drinks too much at the restaurant, causing his companion, the unnamed girl, to become upset. As they argue, he involves the dummy in their discussion and thus insults the girl.
Mr. Harris ("Seven Types of Ambiguity")
Mr. Harris runs a basement bookstore. He promises Mr. Clark that he will save a book entitled Seven Types of Ambiguity for him, until Mr. Clark can afford to purchase it. However, as soon as he is able, Mr. Harris sells the book to someone else.
Mr. Clark is a young man who frequently drops in to Mr. Harris's bookstore. He is extremely well-educated and well-read, and he helps a young couple pick out books to purchase. He hopes to buy Seven Types of Ambiguity, but Mr. Harris sells the book to the couple as soon as Mr. Clark leaves.
man ("Seven Types of Ambiguity")
The man feels resentful that he has never received a good education or had the time to read many books. He follows Mr. Clark around the bookstore, taking his suggestions on what he and his wife should purchase and read. The man wishes that he were as sophisticated and intelligent as Mr. Clark. Out of spite, he purchases the book that Mr. Clark has hoped to save enough money to buy.
woman ("Seven Types of Ambiguity")
The woman follows her husband to the bookstore and is unassuming, while her husband makes the decisions regarding which books to buy.
Mrs. Archer has a young child and enjoys spending time with her friends, Mrs. Corn and Mrs. Valentine. Their visit is interrupted by an old man, who attempts to sell them shoelaces. Mrs. Archer is uncertain as to how she should treat the man, but Mrs. Valentine urges her to feed him.
Mrs. Valentine takes charge of the situation when an old man knocks on Mrs. Archer's door. She orders Mrs. Archer to prepare a large meal for the old man and spends time talking to him.
Mrs. Corn is older than her companions and has the most reservations about letting the old man into the apartment and treating him well. She is greatly offended at the conclusion of the story, when the man tells her that he dislikes old women.
John is an old man who knocks on Mrs. Archer's door to sell her old shoelaces. He nearly faints, and they decide that he is homeless and poor. However, John hardly eats the meal prepared for him. He tells the women about how he was once friends with Yeats.
Mrs. Tylor is a housewife with several children, the youngest of whom is named Carol. She is greatly interested in her new neighbors and attempts to befriend them. Her initial positive impression of the neighbors deteriorates, when the neighbor, Mrs. Harris, describes how her husband is averse to many commonly accepted activities, such as watching movies or listening to the radio.
Carol Tylor is Mrs. Tylor's youngest child. She is reluctant to play with Mrs. Harris's son, but is forced to share her sandbox with him regardless.
James Harris Jr.
James Harris Jr. is the son of the Harris family. He is relatively quiet and unassuming in the story. In fact, his father, James Harris Sr., has a more prominent presence in the story even though he never actually appears.
Mrs. Harris ("Of Course")
Mrs. Harris seems to be a docile housewife who adheres to her husband's commands, no matter how unreasonable. Even when Mr. Harris is not present, she follows his preferences and does not allow her son to watch a movie with the Tylors.
Margaret is a housewife from New Hampshire who embarks upon a long-awaited vacation to New York with her husband, Brad. She first enjoys her vacation, but after a fire scare at a building nearby, she becomes more paranoid about the potential dangers in the city. Furthermore, she and her husband stumble upon a leg on a Long Island beach, while visiting friends. This experience fuels Margaret's paranoia. She is ultimately unable to function in New York, which she sees as too impersonal and decaying.
Brad is Margaret's husband, and he accompanies her on their trip to New York. He appears to be more confident in the city and is not as deeply affected as his wife by their negative experiences.
party host ("Pillar of Salt")
The host throws a party that Margaret and Brad attend, although his apartment is too cramped and crowded. Here, Margaret falsely believes that the building is on fire and panics.
party guest ("Pillar of Salt")
As Margaret stands by the window to take in some fresh air, a party guest approaches her from behind. They chat briefly, and he tells her that the neighborhood is full of drunken people, brawls, and murderers.
Long Island host and hostess
This couple invites Brad and Margaret to their Long Island home, where Brad and Margaret stumble upon a leg on the beach.
girl ("Pillar of Salt")
As Margaret and Brad stroll upon the Long Island beach, they encounter a panicked-looking girl. She asks if they know where she can contact the police, because she has discovered a leg on the beach.
The policeman responds and investigates the matter of the leg on the beach, along with the girl, Brad, and Margaret.
drugstore clerk ("Pillar of Salt")
When Margaret is unable to cross the street and return to her apartment, she repeatedly enters the drugstore for various excuses. She expects the drugstore clerk to consider her peculiar, but he displays no reaction. Margaret realizes that he does not distinguish her from any other customers.
Mrs. Hart is a young, pregnant wife, who has recently moved from the city to the country. She employs the assistance of Mrs. Anderson for the housework. Mrs. Hart glamorizes her lifestyle (having a maid, being pregnant with her first child, and so on) when she writes to her friends in the city. However, Mrs. Hart does not actually like Mrs. Anderson.
Mrs. Anderson ("Men with Their Big Shoes")
Mrs. Anderson works for the Hart household. She has a very boisterous, talkative, and aggressive personality. Her husband is an abusive drunk, and she is not shy about expressing her unhappiness. In fact, she uses this to insinuate herself into the Harts' lives. She cleverly bullies Mrs. Hart into allowing her to move in with them, under the guise of being a helpful, older friend.
Mrs. Martin never appears in the story directly, but she is mentioned by Mrs. Anderson as a fellow town gossiper.
Clara Spencer is a married woman who must travel to New York to see a dentist about her debilitating toothache. During the overnight bus ride, Clara must constantly take pain medication to deal with her tooth. She begins to hallucinate about a man, James Harris, who accompanies her on the journey and reappears throughout the story. By the end of the story, Clara has completely lost her identity and has no recollection of who she is.
Mr. Spencer is Clara's husband, and he drops her off at the bus station, where she departs for New York.
The bus driver takes Clara's payment for her ticket.
A passerby awakens Clara when she falls asleep, after arriving in New York.
The waitress takes Clara's order at the restaurant she goes to for breakfast. The waitress also notes that Clara has fallen asleep at the table.
James Harris appears as a companion on Clara's journey, and he describes to her his own journey to a far-off land. As Clara grows more confused by lack of sleep and pain medication, James Harris comes and goes. At one point, he hands her some pearls, and at the end of the story, she believes that she runs alongside Harris on the beach he describes earlier in the story.
The doorman at Clara's first dentist helps her retrieve a cab.
nurse (at first dentist's office)
The nurse at Clara's first dentist's office shows her to the appropriate room and is very kind.
The dentist sees Clara and directs her to an oral surgeon in another building.
nurse (oral surgery office)
The first nurse Clara encounters at the second office is more brusque and direct than the previous. She tells Clara where to go once she arrives.
nurse 2 (oral surgery office)
The second nurse, who is in the operation room with Clara, is very kind and assures her that she will have no problems during the surgery.
The oral surgeon performs the operation on Clara and successfully removes her problematic tooth.
women in bathroom ("The Tooth")
After the operation, Clara retreats to the bathroom to wash her face and rouse herself. There, she encounters a group of women who are also freshening up, but Clara cannot tell herself apart from these women in the mirror.
narrator ("Got a Letter from Jimmy")
The narrator wants her husband to open a letter received from Jimmy (reminiscent of James Harris, though this is not confirmed). She is so frustrated by her husband's seeming indifference with the letter that she envisions murdering him.
narrator's husband ("Got a Letter from Jimmy")
The husband has been involved in some unspecified altercation with Jimmy. He receives a letter from Jimmy but plans to return it unopened. He is completely unaware of his wife's inner turmoil and anger.
Bobby and Harry Jones
These boys are brothers and among the first to begin collecting stones, along with the other village children.
Dickie is the son of another family in the village which upholds the ritual of the lottery.
Mr. Joe Summers
Mr. Summers runs a coal business and is also in charge of various town activities, including the lottery. Every year, he urges the town to construct a new black box for the lottery, but no one ever listens to him.
Mr. Harry Graves
Mr. Graves is the postmaster and brings the stool upon which the black box is placed.
Mr. Martin is the head of one of the families in "The Lottery." His oldest son is named Baxter.
Baxter is the oldest son in the Martin family, and he and his father help Mr. Summers prepare for the lottery.
Old Man Warner
Mr. Warner is the oldest member of the village. Warner dismisses the thought of ending the lottery ritual, and this lottery is his seventy-seventh time.
Mrs. Tess Hutchinson
Tess is the last to arrive to the lottery, claiming that she had forgotten the date. She chats briefly to Mrs. Delacroix, before making her way to stand with her family. When her husband picks the marked slip of paper, Tess accuses Mr. Summers of being unfair. Similarly, when she herself picks the marked paper, she protests the ritual instead of accepting her fate.
Bill Hutchinson, Tess's husband, picks the marked slip that threatens his family. He orders his wife to be quiet when she protests against Mr. Summers.
other families in the village
Other families in the village include:
Eva Hutchinson is one of the Hutchinson children, but she has married into another family. Thus, she is not required to draw with her parents (Tess and Bill) and other siblings.
The Hutchinson children who do participate in the lottery, after Bill picks the marked slip, are Bill Jr., Nancy, and Davey, who is only a toddler.
The Lottery and Other Stories Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Lottery and Other Stories is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The first time I read it, many years ago, I was surprised by the ending. I knew something strange was up because of the irony and tension in the air. I did not clue into the final climax though. Shirley Jackson shapes her narrative so well that...
Characters are separated by gender, age, and family. Tessie comes across as rather flippant about the lottery. She pretends she was doing dishes and "forgot" about the meeting. In reality nobody forgets the lottery because they, or a loved one,...
The Lottery and Other Stories literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson.