The Executioner's Song Characters

Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Gary Gilmore

Gary Gilmore, the protagonist, a convicted murderer executed at the age of thirty-five for two brutal, unprovoked murders. Gilmore is a rough-featured criminal who has spent most of his life in prison. He is highly intelligent, with an artistic bent. He also has quasi-religious convictions. A complicated person, he shows little remorse for his crimes but insists that the state of Utah execute him for the murders he committed, even though he clearly is afraid to die. Gilmore’s steadfast request that his death sentence be carried out makes him the focus of enormous publicity.

Nicole Baker Barrett

Nicole Baker Barrett, Gilmore’s nineteen-year-old lover. She is a beautiful woman who already has been married twice. She does not seem to know how to control her life. She is nearly as self-destructive as Gilmore and almost succeeds in killing herself after she and Gilmore make a suicide pact. Although Gilmore manipulates her in various ways, there is no question that he loves her and that they share a bond that cannot be broken by his imprisonment. Nicole becomes Gilmore’s inspiration, his reason for writing more than a thousand pages explaining his feelings about her and about his life.

Brenda Nicol

Brenda Nicol, Gilmore’s good-hearted cousin who helps to get him released from prison shortly before the period in which he kills two men. Brenda believes that if she can...

(The entire section is 546 words.)

The Executioner's Song Characters / Techniques

It is most unusual for Mailer to have his characters reveal themselves almost entirely through dialogue. Descriptions of characters are...

(The entire section is 197 words.)