Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

First Applicant

First Applicant, Jack Smith, an unemployed house painter. He is proud of his profession, his union membership, and his Italian heritage. He recounts an occasion when, lacking direction in his life, he mentioned to his priest that he might like to join a monastery but received no reply.

Second Applicant

Second Applicant, Jane Smith, an unemployed floor washer. She is of Jewish-Irish descent and has been washing floors for twenty years. She feels abandoned by her deceased husband.

Third Applicant

Third Applicant, Richard Smith, an unemployed bank president. During his job interview, he flaunts his education, social status, and previous employment. Later, he reveals that he lost his job because of an unexplainable and uncontrollable feeling of panic that has incapacitated him.

Fourth Applicant

Fourth Applicant, Mary Smith, an unemployed lady’s maid. During her job interview, she brags about her family origins and the aristocratic families for whom she has worked. On the city streets, however, she becomes completely disoriented and unable to find her way.


Hal, a television ratings service employee in his late twenties or early thirties. He is cynical in outlook and enjoys tormenting George, his supervisor, with whom he feels himself to be in competition. He wants to begin a relationship with his coworker,...

(The entire section is 477 words.)