William “Studs” Lonigan
William “Studs” Lonigan, a young Chicago Irishman who, growing up in the early decades of the twentieth century, is a moral failure. He tries to be tough all his life and succeeds only in leading an empty existence. His thoughts are only of women, drink, and a good time, from his graduation from a parochial grammar school to his sudden death in his thirties.
Patrick Lonigan, Studs’s father. He lives in a world that he understands only as he can see it from a narrow point of view. He is a painting contractor who provides for his family in a material way and sees nothing more to do. Only his business failure in the 1930’s brings him to believe that he has not done well in this world.
Mrs. Lonigan, Studs’s mother. She wants her children to do well. She always thinks the best of her children, even her half-hoodlum son Studs. She is a possessive woman, not wanting to let go of her influence on her children.
Lucy Scanlan, a pretty little neighbor girl whom Studs loves when they are in their early teens.
Catherine Banahan, a young Irishwoman who loves Studs when he is in his thirties. She becomes his mistress. When he dies suddenly, she is left unmarried to bear his child.
Paulie Haggerty, one of Studs’s friends. His early death causes Studs to think of his own mortality.
Weary Reilley, a tough contemporary and sometime friend of Studs. Often in and out of scrapes, he eventually is arrested for raping a girl he picks up at a dance.
Frances Lonigan, one of Studs’s sisters. She tries to rise out of the intellectual and moral rut of the rest of the family.
Loretta Lonigan, Studs’s other sister.
Martin Lonigan, Studs’s young brother, who tries to imitate Studs.
Helen Shires, a boyish girl who is Studs’s chum when he is a boy.