Tattoos on the Heart Characters

Tattoos on the Heart Character List

Father Gregory Boyle

The first-person narrator of this autobiographic memoir is Father Gregory Boyle. He is an associate pastor at the Dolores Mission in what he terms “the poorest parish in Los Angeles.” His tale is one that focuses on the social order in pervading such a community with a focus on Homeboy Industries, a renowned non-profit business which successfully addressed the plague of gang violence in the city.

Ray Stark

Although a minor character in terms of actual appearances, Stark looms large in Boyle’s story to address inner city gang violence. He is a two-time Oscar-nominated Hollywood producer whose philanthropic interests serves to fund the creation of Homeboy Bakery and its expansion into a thriving non-profit enterprise.


Despite the inconvenience of being a 14th century Persian poet, Hafez is actually a significant character in the text by virtue of Boyle’s references to and quotations taken from his verse. Thematically speaking the words of Hafez permeate throughout every single page even though his name is only mentioned a few times.

Bill Cain

Bill Cain is an old friend of Father Boyle who heavily influenced his view of god which Boyle describes in language rich a sacred imagery. Boyle also refers to Cain as his “spiritual director.”

Homies and Homegirls

Boyle’s dedication of his book is simple: “To the Homies and the Homegirls.” The representatives of these groups populate his book as individuals too numerous to mention by name and in events and scenes too wildly diverse to describe. As his choice to dedicate the work to implies, these gang members, drug addicts and victims of violence and politics represent the heart of the book. Their stories often end tragically, occasionally end on a note of hope and too rarely don’t end at all but instead remain in a state of stasis.

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