The author of the book has made many of her characters' names correspond to their lives or attitudes. Braverman, who is called only by his last, is a case in point. Braverman comes from a poor family and has had few opportunities in life. Still, he faces each day bravely, working tirelessly to support himself and save money to go to college, fighting to prevent the town's corrupt mayor from winning reelection, and standing up to thugs who physically attack him with an unfair advantage of numbers.
G.T. Stoop's name is Gabriel Thomas. Considered Biblically, his first name, Gabriel, might be a reference to the angel Gabriel, who brought a message of hope to the world through Mary, the mother of Jesus. Thomas is the name of the disciple of Jesus who doubted the veracity of the risen Christ. G.T. is a man who has obviously examined his faith and made his life a living testament to his beliefs. His faith is not just a religion to which he gives lip service; it is rather a lifestyle, guided by principles of kindness and integrity. G.T. overcomes adversity and doubt by making the most of every day. At his death, it can truly be said that hope triumphed in his life, and that he lived each day "to the fullest measure" (Chapter 21).
Hope Yancey's name, chosen by herself, is indicative of her philosophy of life. Despite having been abandoned by both her parents and being forced to leave the home she loves, Hope forges on, refusing to let go of the belief that better things lie ahead. Hope thinks "hope is just about the best thing a person can have", and knows that it is a name that will be hard to live up to. As she says,
"People expect things from Hopes that they don't expect from Pattys and Lisas and Danielles. People expect Hopes to be cheerful and positive".
Hope considers carefully the significance of her name before she commits herself to it, and, feeling up to meeting the expectation it implies, finally makes it official (Chapter 1).
Other character names which represent something about the characters themselves include Addie, Mayor Eli Millstone, Miss Pittypat, and Mr. Sage. Mr. Sage is a teacher, and as such is supposed to be wise; Miss Pittypat is a dance teacher, her name a marvelous example of onomotopeia, the sound of it suggesting the noise of her trade. Mayor Eli Millstone brings to mind the Biblical idea of being thrown into the water with a millstone around one's neck, his corruption potentially leading to destruction, and Addie, with her eternally optimistic outlook, cannot help but be a positive addition in any situation.