Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Joe Bonaparte, a young violinist who becomes a prizefighter. At heart a musician, he has been laughed at and hurt by people against whom he longs to fight back. The fame and money he earns in the ring make retaliation possible but brutalize Joe and change his personality. He falls in love with Lorna Moon, who finally persuades him to give up the ring. That night, they are both killed in an automobile accident.
Tom Moody, Joe Bonaparte’s fight manager and part owner.
Lorna Moon, Tom Moody’s mistress. Asked by Joe Bonaparte’s father to help the fighter find himself, she falls in love with him but feels that she cannot give up Tom Moody, whose wife has at last consented to a divorce so that he can marry her. Finally, in Joe’s dressing room after a triumphant fight, she tells him again that she loves him and persuades him to leave the ring. She is killed with him that night in an automobile accident.
Mr. Bonaparte, Joe Bonaparte’s father. Hoping that Joe will give up fighting and return to music, he refuses the parental blessing on Joe’s career until he sorrowfully sees that his son is totally committed to the ring. When Joe is killed, he claims the body and brings the boy home where he belongs.
Eddie Fuseli, a gambler and part owner of Joe Bonaparte.
(The entire section is 243 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Golden Boy Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Joe Bonaparte, known only as ‘‘Boy’’ in the first part of the first scene, is a talented violinist, who trades his musical dream for the chance to pursue a life of fame and fortune in boxing. In the beginning the fight promoter, Moody, loses his best fighter, Kaplan, on the day of a fight when Kaplan breaks his hand on Joe’s elbow. Joe lobbies to take Kaplan’s place, and is proud when he is not knocked out, although his family, particularly his father, is distraught when Joe says he is considering a fighting career. Joe continues to box, but he is torn between the violin and boxing, a fact that is evident in the ring—where he is noticeably pulling his punches to protect his hands. When Joe’s father reveals this fact to Joe’s managers, Moody and Roxy, and his trainer, Tokio, the three try to manipulate Joe into giving up his dreams of music. When this fails, Moody sends his girlfriend, Lorna Moon, to try to seduce Joe away from his old life. Joe, smitten with Lorna and craving the rich lifestyle of a boxer, reluctantly agrees. He rapidly improves his fighting technique, to the delight of his managers and the horror of his father.
However, since Joe alienates his family, he rarely sees his father. When he does see him, Mr. Bonaparte is a constant reminder of Joe’s old life. Because of this, Eddie Fuseli, a gambler, gangster, and one of Joe’s new managers, tells Mr. Bonaparte to leave Joe’s dressing room before a fight. Nevertheless,...
(The entire section is 442 words.)
Mr. Bonaparte is Joe’s Italian father, whom Joe alienates when he starts to get famous because of his boxing career. Mr. Bonaparte is a cheery old man who is hard to upset. He lives his life by values learned in his native Italy, which stress integrity and following one’s nature. His distinctive Italian accent is a constant reminder of his origins. He believes that Joe is meant to be a great violinist, and encourages his son to follow this path. When the play starts, Mr. Bonaparte refuses to buy his son-inlaw a taxicab, but gladly spends twelve hundred dollars, on a new violin for Joe’s birthday. When Mr. Bonaparte finds out that Joe is thinking of leaving his music career to fight, he holds off on giving Joe his present, although he eventually does. Joe, after playing the violin briefly, makes his decision to fight and gives the violin back to his father.
Joe’s actions upset the normally unflappable Mr. Bonaparte, who refuses to give Joe his blessing to fight. Mr. Bonaparte asks Lorna Moon to watch out for Joe, and to give him an update on whether Joe is planning on giving up music totally. As Joe progresses in his boxing career, he alienates his entire family, including his father, who eventually comes to see one of Joe’s boxing matches. He sadly gives Joe his blessing to fight. When Mr. Bonaparte sees the broken and deformed knuckles of another boxer in the dressing room, he realizes that if Joe’s hands get hurt, he will never be able to go...
(The entire section is 335 words.)
Tom Moody is Joe’s initial fight manager and the fiancé of Lorna Moon. Moody is a man in his forties who used to manage all of the great professional boxers. He is distraught when he hears from Joe the day of a fight that Moody’s best boxer, Kaplan, has broken his hand while training with Joe. Moody is even more disturbed when Joe pressures him to let Joe fight in Kaplan’s place, but is happy when Joe is not knocked out. However, after several fights, Moody realizes that Joe is holding back in the ring by pulling his punches. When Joe’s father tells Moody that it is because Joe is a violinist and is afraid of hurting his hands, Moody is happy again, thinking that he can manipulate Joe into giving up his dream of being a musician. Like the other managers, Moody sees Joe as an object to be obtained and used. To this end, he instructs his girlfriend, Lorna Moon, to seduce Joe away from his old life and into the boxing life. This works, and Joe steadily devotes himself to boxing, in the process developing a cocky attitude. This does not sit well with Moody, who starts to wish Joe would lose a fight, even though it would cut into Moody’s profits. At the same time, Moody is forced to give up some of his profits when Eddie Fuseli, a gambler and gangster, coerces Moody into selling a share of Joe’s management.
Lorna’s seductions work all too well on Joe, who falls in love with her. Although Lorna feels the same about Joe and says that she will tell...
(The entire section is 399 words.)
Lorna Moon is Tom Moody’s fiancée, although she is in love with Joe. When Joe first introduces himself to Moody and tries to get Moody to let him fight for him, Lorna encourages Joe to keep pressuring Moody. Although Lorna is very perceptive, Moody and his partners are very chauvinistic to her, often kicking her out of the office when she tries to give her opinion. However, once Moody realizes that Joe is struggling with his decision to give up the violin, Moody appeals to Lorna to use her feminine charms to seduce Joe away from his home life and musical dreams. Although Lorna starts out trying to do just this, she eventually falls in love with Joe. However, when she sees what her leaving would do to Moody, she fails to acknowledge her love for Joe, a fact that inspires hate in Joe, which he uses to win in the boxing ring. Lorna has come from a bad home life, where her father beat her mother repeatedly and her mother committed suicide. As a result, Lorna drinks heavily on many occasions. When she meets Moody, he helps pull her out of poverty, a fact that influences her decision to scorn Joe and stay with Moody.
However, Lorna is torn by her decision, and confesses her love for Joe to Moody, after Joe is not around to hear it. This fact does not impede Moody’s engagement to Lorna, an event that further enrages Joe. From this point on, most conversations between Joe and Lorna are heated, and Lorna is the one who tells Joe that he is turning into a...
(The entire section is 360 words.)
Anna is Joe’s sister and Siggie’s wife. Anna’s marriage is filled with love and devotion, and she and her husband frequently get into spirited fights. Anna plays the maternal role for Joe, in place of their deceased mother. When Joe is leaving for his first fighting tour, Anna helps him pack and instructs him on what types of clothes he needs to buy in the city.
Barker is the manager of the Baltimore Chocolate Drop and is distraught when Joe kills his boxer.
Frank Bonaparte is Joe’s older brother and a labor union representative for the Congress of Industrial Organizations. His role in fighting for what he believes in sharply contrasts with Joe’s choice to fight for money.
See Joe Bonaparte
Mr. Carp is Mr. Bonaparte’s pessimistic friend, who often backs up his gloomy statements with quotes from the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. Mr. Carp thinks all professional sports are pointless. His pessimism is sharply contrasted with Mr. Bonaparte’s optimism. Joe gets some of his education by reading Mr. Carp’s encyclopedia.
Drake is one of two sports writers whom Moody has Joe talk to the night before his fight with the Chocolate Drop. Unlike Lewis, the other sports writer, Drake is disgusted by Joe’s cockiness.
Driscoll is the person...
(The entire section is 1007 words.)