Who is Ginger Coffey in The Luck of Ginger Coffey?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ginger Coffey is a dreamer who does not realize that he is poor.

Ginger Coffey’s real name is James Francis Coffey. He is an Irish immigrant to Canada, but he is having trouble finding a job and keeping his family afloat. He has a daughter named Paulie and a wife named Veronica.

Unaware that he is poor, he accuses his wife of “crying poverty.” Yet they live on the “lower half of a duplex apartment on a shabby Montreal street.” As the novel begins, his wife asks him to give notice. She thinks they are going to Ireland, when in reality he does not even have the money to buy the tickets.

Every once in a while, reality comes crashing down on Coffey, such as when he reads his resume.

Still, pen in hand, write in block letters or type, Coffey was faced once again with the misleading facts of a life. (ch 1)

Canada is supposed to be “the land of opportunity,” but Coffey himself can’t find any. When asked if he could be a teacher because he said he has a BA, he says he has forgotten everything.  Yet he lies both to potential employers and to his wife.

Eventually, things snowball for Coffey and his wife has an affair, then leaves him. It is not until he accepts his low position in life that he gets his wife, and his life, back.  It is not until he accepts reality that he is able to live it.

crmhaske eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ginger Coffey is the main character of the novel.  His full name is James Franics Coffey, and he is an Irish-Canadian (nicknamed Ginger for his red head and facial hair) who emigrated to Canada in pursuit of a fresh start in life on a path to greatness.  He is a big dreamer who will do whatever it takes to achieve the greatness he seeks, including lying about his experiences and qualifications.  His desire for greatness is so obsessive that time and again throughout the novel he acts in his own interests at the expense of his wife and children.  By the end of the novel, however, he finally learns to put the interests of his family first and accepts a mediocre desk job in order to support his family.