Bert Gooderich, a stolid machinist who falls off a bridge and is drowned.
Mary, his wife, thankful to marry Bert after having been deserted by her lover, a baker’s boy, the father of Minnie.
Young Bert, their son, big, strong, and pugnacious, with an ambition to be a soldier. Shortly after his enlistment, he is killed at Pretoria.
Hannibal, another son, a big, inarticulate, bungling lout who becomes a factory worker, a ship’s mess boy, and finally a trimmer on the S.S.Cyaryatid. He dies of pneumonia caused partly by inhalation of coal dust and partly by the cough syrup for which Minnie had written advertisements.
Minnie, Mary’s daughter, a stubborn, difficult girl, thin and reserved, engaged for a time to a coal clerk. She becomes Captain Briscoe’s mistress, later his wife. She is jailed for engaging in a suffragette demonstration. She is also a writer of advertisements for cough syrup.
Captain Briscoe, a ship’s captain, Minnie’s lover and later her husband.
Nellie, Hannibal’s wife, a plump, merry girl. She works in her uncle’s tavern and later manages it.
Mrs. Gaynor, an American woman, next-door neighbor of the Gooderich family.
Hiram, her son, a sailor.
Mrs. Wilfley, a greedy woman who organizes a benefit musicale for the Gooderich family and pockets most of the receipts.
Anthony Gilfillan, a middle-aged man who befriends Minnie at a party and later takes her to the Continent with him.