Bird, a twenty-seven-year-old graduate school dropout who is now a cram-school teacher. Small, thin, and round-shouldered, with a pointed nose, thin lips, cold eyes, and a squawky voice, he still uses the nickname given to him in adolescence. Feeling caged, Bird resisted his marriage by indulging in a four-month drunk and dropping out of graduate school. The birth of his first son, with serious abnormalities, confronts him with a moral dilemma. Instead of killing his child, he decides to stop running away from responsibility and takes both his wife and his child home to an uncertain future.
Himiko, a former college girlfriend of Bird. Now widowed and a full-time sexual adventuress, she takes Bird in during his initial shock at the birth of his baby with two heads. She becomes smitten with his fantasy of escape to Africa and encourages him to destroy the unfortunate child. When Bird assumes full responsibility for the child, she departs for Africa.
Bird’s wife, who gives birth to a malformed son later named Kikuhiko. Nameless and blameless, she is the target of Bird’s intense sense of lacking and dissatisfaction in his life.
Bird’s father-in-law, the retired chair of the English department at a small private college. Although he got Bird his teaching job, he also undermines Bird’s success by giving him a bottle of liquor the day the baby is born.
Bird’s mother-in-law, who attends her daughter at the birth. She wants to conceal the nature of the baby’s deformity from Bird’s wife.