Katey Macauley, a widow who is trying to bring up her family alone. She has imaginary talks with her dead husband, in which she discusses family problems with him. She feels that her husband is not dead as long as he lives in the lives of his children. She accepts Tobey into the family after Marcus is killed.
Homer Macauley, Katey’s second oldest son, who takes a night job at the telegraph office. He gets up early every day and exercises so that he will be in shape to run the hurdles at the high school. He finds the telegram that Mr. Grogan has typed out telling Katey that Marcus has been killed.
Marcus Macauley, Katey’s oldest son, who goes into the Army and makes friends with Tobey George. Tobey has no family of his own, and so Marcus shares stories of his family with Tobey. Marcus wants Tobey to go to his home and marry his sister, Bess, after the war. Marcus is killed in action.
Mary Arena, Marcus’ sweetheart.
Tobey George, an orphan whom Marcus befriends in the Army. Tobey is lonely and lives vicariously through Marcus’ family. He returns to Marcus’ home after the war and, in a sense, takes Marcus’ place as a son.
Mr. Grogan, Spangler’s assistant in the telegraph office, with whom Homer has long talks concerning the efficacy of war. Mr. Grogan has a weak heart and gets drunk every night. One of Homer’s duties is to see that he stays awake. He dies after typing out the message that Marcus has been killed in action.
Thomas Spangler, the manager of the telegraph office.
Bess Macauley and
Ulysses Macauley, Katey’s two other children.
Lionel, Ulysses’ friend, who takes him to the library and shows him the many books.