Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time Character List


A caring husband and father, he acts as the ultimate provider. He initiates most of the security measures to assuage his wife's fears. He does so "to please her, for he loved her very much." He is confident that his family is completely secured; ironically, he is unable to see what a dangerous space he has created.


The mother of the little boy, she possesses a considerable solicitude for others, even hoping to feed the loiterers outside. After hearing the advice of her trusted housemaid, she persuades her husband to improve the security of the house. Subsequent worries lead to even more precautions, which, in turn, ultimately lead to the death of her son.

Wise Old Witch

She is the husband's mother. She warns the couple not to take on anyone off the street, characterizing them as shiftless, dangerous people. She also pays for the extra bricks to build a higher wall as a Christmas present to her son and his wife, along with a spaceman outfit and book of fairy tales for the little boy.

Little Boy

Son of the husband and wife, he is playful and innocent. At the end of the story, he dies while climbing through the barbed wire.

Nadine Gordimer

She is the writer of the story. She acts as a character at the beginning of the story, reflecting that she was asked to write a story for children but refused to do so. After rejecting that request, she is awakened by a creaking noise and cannot sleep, so she decides to tell herself a bedtime story.

Trusted Housemaid

One of the few people from the "outside" who is allowed to come within the rarefied walls of the couple's home; it is implied that she is Black. She is worried about her safety as well, and she seems to place distance between herself and other Blacks, who are vagrants in her eyes.

Itinerant Gardener

It is implied that he is one of the few Black people allowed to come within the walls of the couple's home. He tries to save the little boy but fails.