Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 475
The main character in Bad Characters is Emily Vanderpool. At the beginning of the story, Emily is unable to keep more than one friend at a time and is constantly isolating herself from her peers by offending them. She recognizes her own "badness," though she is unable to handle her peers differently. Nor is she able to keep herself on more pleasant terms with her parents, particularly her mother, who she is knowingly hard with. She is from the wealthy part of town and recognizes this when she encounters Lottie. Emily's loneliness and fascination with Lottie's demeanor and personality lead to their agreement to lift from a local dime store.
Muff is Emily's disheveled looking calico cat. She prefers only the company of Emily and is noted to become unruly if anyone else tries to pet her.
Lottie Jump is a conniving and clever 'lifter' who befriends Emily in an attempt to cover up her stealing from the Vanderpool house. Lottie's family has moved to Adams from Muskogee, Oklahoma. Coming from a poor neighborhood, Lottie has to become resourceful and is able to make use of what she has. Lottie convinces Emily into a friendship and they plot to lift from a local dime store. Her wit and cleverness allows her to not be caught during their attempt. She is never seen or sought after again after the incident with Emily.
Virgil Meade is an unsuspecting victim of Emily's insults. His friendship with Emily is short lived and takes place before Emily meets Lottie.
Judge Bay is a friend of Emily's father. Emily views him as a "crabby old man who loved to punish sinners". He was called to the Vanderpool household before Emily's incident to lecture Jack on morality and criminal punishment for cheating. He is called once more after Emily gets caught for shoplifting and orders her to cleanse her conscience of all her badness. He holds the belief that any criminal, be it a child or adult, will eventually resort to greater crimes once they start stealing cakes or ransacking empty houses.
Mother is referenced throughout the short story by no other name. Her perfume flask and chocolate cake are stolen by Lottie. She is unaware of the theft of her perfume flask and believes she has misplaced it. She easily succumbs to Emily's tantrums.
Stella is the sister to Emily. She is more of a social butterfly and participates in many activities.
Jack is the brother to Emily. He teases her relentless by calling her "polecat."
Tess is the friend to the mother and is the babysitter. She accompanies mother to the sanitarium and looks after the children from time to time.
Mrs. Rogers is at the sanitarium and is also a friend to mother.
Mr. Bellamy is the nineteen year old who takes Lottie and Emily to the manager's office.