Name and describe the characters in "Bright Lights, Big City." 

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator of Bright Lights, Big City is not named; he is in his mid-twenties and has had an upper middle class upbringing and superior, East coast education.  His aspiration is to be a famous writer, but for the moment he is working as a fact-checker at a New York-based magazine.  He is a bit lost from a failed marriage and his mother's fairly recent death, and he dives headlong into the Manhattan party scene.

Amanda is the narrator's ex-wife; she is a fashion model who leaves the narrator for another man.

The narrator has a friend, Tad Allagash, who is also fond of nightclubbing and living a dissipated lifestyle.

Clara Tillinghast is the narrator's boss, and she tends to treat him quite badly. 

Alex Hardy is a longtime writer/editor for the magazine.

Other employees at the magazine include Yasu Wade, who is amusing and derisive, Rittenhouse, Clara's favorite, Megan Avery, a down-to-earth, affable young woman, and an editor and writer called, respectively, the Druid and the Ghost. 

Characters who appear in single chapters include Michael, the narrator's brother, and Vicky, Tad's cousin. 

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let me see if I can give this one a try. I think I can list them all from memory because you're right I couldn't find a reference for you on the site. 

Unnamed Protagonist- works at a magazine as a fact checker, wife left him, abuses cocaine

Tad Allagash- best friend to the protagonist

Yasu Wade


Amanda- absentminded model who is rising fast and is the unnamed Protagonist's ex-wife


Mother-died a year earlier, Unnamed Protagonist is still reeling from the loss

Megan- coworker


Rich Vanier


Vicky- philosophy student who Jaime dates


Mr. Vogel

Ferret Man

mhfilmz | Student

"Bright Lights, Big City," novelist Jay McInerny's allegorical look at the 1980's culture of excess, is rich with complex and interesting characters that intertwine in sometimes unexpected ways. Told in a kind of second-person perspective, you, the narrator, are a coke-using yuppie writer and nightclub frequenter that the movie version dubbed "Jamie." Your main friend and collaborator on all your nocturnal adventures is socialite Tad Allagash, who seems divinely connected to the Upper East Side's unlimited party prospects. You pine for your ex-wife and model wannabe, Amanda, who may or may not be in Paris and who typifies the hedonistic lifestyle you've become so accustomed to. The bane of your work life consists of one Clara Tillinghast (nickname: The Clinger), the hard-nosed, unforgiving boss of a highbrow magazine's Department of Factual Verification where you trudge through your existence as a fact-checker. Working with you are a motley cast of supporting characters including Clara's star editor Rittenhouse, the derisive gossip Yasu Wade, fiction editor Alex Hardy (who possesses a comical knowledge of the magazine's founders) and friendly-almost-to-a-fault co-worker Megan Avery. Rounding out the cast are a handful of forgettable stock figures, including Tad's Beantown cousin and philosophy student Vicky, your sensible brother Michael, and a writer named "The Ghost" who has allegedly been hammering away at the same article for more than half a decade.

suparnosaha | Student

The main characters of the novel Bright Lights, Big City are the following: 

  • Unnamed protagonist: He is the main character of the novel. The protagonist lives in New York and was divorced by his ex-wife Amanda. He has a very lethargic attitude towards life. 
  • Tad Allagash: The protagonist's best friend and complete opposite to his character. Tad likes to go out to party at night clubs and is a social butterfly. 
  • Clara Tillinghast: Protagonist's boss, who is often shown to be too hard on the protagonist. 
  • Rittenhouse, Yasu Wade, and Megal Avery: Co-workers of the protagonist. Rittenhouse likes to be submerged in work and does not mingle with others. Yasu likes to gossip, and Megal is honest and friendly.
  • Amanda: Ex-wife of the protagonist, who is supposedly living in Paris. 
swimma-logan | Student
  • You (ch 1)— a 24 year-old New York City recently separated male.
  • Tad Allagash (ch 1) your night-club hopping socialite friend.
  • Clara Tillinghast / Clingfast / The Clinger (ch 2)— your unforgiving boss in the Department of Factual Verification
  • Rittenhouse (ch 2)— a nervous, invisible, and perfect co-worker; Clara's star editor.
  • Yasu Wade (ch 2) an irreverent gossipy co-worker; Clara's second-favorite.
  • Megan Avery (ch 2)— a sensible, honest, and friendly co-worker.
  • The Druid (ch 2)— the elusive and supreme final editor.
  • Alex Hardy (ch 4)— a fiction editor who knew the founding fathers of the magazine by nickname.
  • Amanda (ch 5)— your ex-wife whom you assume to be in Paris.
  • The Ghost (ch 6)— a writer who has supposedly been working on the same aritcle for 6 years.
  • Vicky (ch 6)— Tad's cousin from Boston.
  • Michael (ch 10)- your brother.

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