The Possibility of Evil Questions and Answers
by Shirley Jackson

The Possibility of Evil book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Who are the characters in "The Possibility of Evil"?

Expert Answers info

Bridgett Sumner, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Hofstra University


calendarEducator since 2016

write1,749 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

In Shirley Jackson's 1965 short story, there is the main character, Miss Adela Strangeworth, and few characters interact with her directly. There is Mr. Lewis, the grocer, who assembles her grocery order of a tomato, four ounces of tea, a can of cat food, a box of strawberries from town resident Arthur Parker's garden, and a veal chop. Mrs. Martha Harper is also shopping for cake sugar when Miss Strangeworth completes her purchase.

Miss Strangeworth encounters Helen Crane and her six-month-old daughter when she leaves the grocery store. They speak of Helen's husband, Don, and Helen's mother. Next, Miss Strangeworth speaks to Billy Moore about his father's car and Miss Chandler, the librarian, on her walk home from shopping.

Later, when Miss Strangeworth walks to the post office to send her three nasty letters, she encounters a group of young people assembled on the sidewalk outside.

The remainder of characters in the story are either referenced in Miss Strangeworth's thoughts or in the conversation she hears between the Stewart's fifteen-year-old daughter, Linda, and the Harris boy, Dave.

Those alluded to in Miss Strangeworth's thoughts are Mr. Shelley, Mr. Shelley's deceased first wife, and Doctor Burns, whose competence she calls into question. She thinks of old Mrs. Foster and Billy Moore's father, the chemistry teacher.

Finally, there is the unnamed person who sends Miss Strangeworth a letter and knows who has destroyed the roses of which she is so proud.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial