Last Updated on July 22, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 470
Mrs. Mooney is a shrewd and "determined woman" who is "quite able to keep things to herself." In other words, she takes in everything, seeing the truth about people regardless of how they might try to hide it, and she is able to manipulate them, all the while keeping her intentions to herself. She does not need any assistance in her plots, as she is quite capable of managing herself and others without consulting another person.
Mrs. Mooney married a man who seemed to have prospects, her butcher-father's foreman, but when her father died, her husband turned to drinking and stealing. He fought with her "in the presence of customers" and ended up ruining his business. One day, when he "went for his wife with the cleaver," she left him and took their children and what was left of their money. One wonders, or perhaps assumes, that Mrs. Mooney knew precisely what she was doing when she married him and was counting on being able to achieve an independent lifestyle one day (having fulfilled her social obligation to marry once)—especially given her adroit manipulation of her daughter and Mr. Doran later on.
Jack is Mrs. Mooney's son, who "had the reputation of being a hard case." He swears and stays out late (possibly drinking, gambling, engaging with prostitutes, etc.). He's also an adept fighter, "handy with the mits," and always has an entertaining story or song to share with the male boarders. His threats toward anyone who dishonors his sister help to compel Mr. Doran to marry her.
Polly is Mrs. Mooney's daughter and Jack's sister. She sings songs about being a "naughty girl." She also flirts with the young men and seems to silently investigate them, as if to learn which might make a good match...
(The entire section contains 470 words.)
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