Brighton Beach Memoirs

by Neil Simon

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Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 614

Eugene Morris Jerome

Eugene Morris Jerome, a fifteen-year-old Jewish boy living in Brooklyn, New York. Eugene is an enthusiastic, energetic, and persistent boy with a passion for baseball, especially his hometown Dodgers. Newly aware of girls, he is impatient for sexual knowledge and lusts after his cousin Nora. He is young enough to take life, his family, and all their problems lightly and clever enough to be very humorous in the process. He is blamed for everything and must continually cover his tracks. Behind his innocent cleverness is the sharp and insightful mind of an aspiring writer; storytelling and entertaining are already basic elements of Eugene’s highly expressive manner.

Kate Jerome

Kate Jerome, Eugene’s mother. Kate is an optimistic yet realistic forty-year-old woman. Her belief in God and providence and her determination to find the good in all the bad things that happen are balanced with a xenophobic distrust of anything or anyone not immediately familiar. Her generous and nurturing nature can become overprotective; her capacity to worry and dominate sometimes overwhelms the members of her family. Kate works hard to keep them all going but harbors deep anger and resentment for the sacrifices she must make and the trials she must endure.

Blanche Morton

Blanche Morton, Kate’s widowed younger sister. Blanche is a mournful woman who suffers from asthma and headaches and is gradually losing her eyesight from overwork at her sewing machine. She does her best to rear her daughters but feels woefully inadequate and looks to Kate and Jack for help. Her dependence on them—having housed her family under their roof for three years—feeds her feelings of guilt and powerlessness. Not interested in remarriage, she is content to wallow in self-pity over her undeserved tragedy until a fight with Kate inspires her to accept some responsibility for her life.

Nora Morton

Nora Morton, Blanche’s pretty sixteen-year-old daughter. Nora dreams of being a Broadway dancer and is hungry for independence. She misses her father dearly and has come to resent both Blanche’s inability to make parental decisions and the excessive attention paid to her sister Laurie’s fragile condition. Headstrong and enthusiastic, Nora says what is on her mind.

Laurie Morton

Laurie Morton, Blanche’s thirteen-year-old daughter. Laurie has a heart flutter that makes the family members treat her like an invalid, and she has learned to indulge herself in their attention and exploit their concern. She studies hard and has no interest in boys yet. Precocious and contrary, she delights in correcting people and meddling tactlessly in their discussions and problems.

Stanley Jerome

Stanley Jerome, Eugene’s older brother. Stanley is a sincere and serious young man with a strong belief in principles and a sense of underdog morality. Despite his honesty and good faith, he somehow manages to get himself into trouble, alienating his boss and gambling away an entire paycheck. At the age of eighteen, he is seasoned and wise about teenage lust and is a good adviser to Eugene. For all of his wayward tendencies, Stanley is in awe of his father and generally acts out of selfless devotion to his family’s welfare.


Jacob (Jack) Jerome, Eugene’s father. Between a day job cutting raincoats and a night job selling party favors, Jack is horribly overworked, and his labors have made him older than his forty-two years. At the end of an exhausting day, he is the authority figure to whom all the family members look for guidance, and he manages to deal patiently and sensitively with their various dilemmas. He has both strong ideals and a businessman’s sense of compromise; rather than give orders, he offers...

(This entire section contains 614 words.)

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 788

Eugene Morris Jerome Eugene is the fourteen-year-old narrator of Bright Beach Memoirs. He wants to be a baseball player, but if that does not work out, he'll settle for being a writer. He keeps a detailed journal of his family's eccentricities. Eugene is concerned for his family, especially his overworked father, but complains about their demands on him. He feels like a slave to his mother, who is constantly sending him to the store on one errand or another. He also feels that he is blamed for everything that goes wrong. Eugene has a love-hate relationship with his elder brother, Stanley. For the most part, though, Eugene worships his brother because he has integrity and tells Eugene about girls and masturbation. Eugene is at the beginning of puberty and just beginning to notice the opposite sex, especially his pretty cousin Nora. Eugene writes a letter of apology for Stanley in exchange for details about the time Stanley saw Nora naked.

Jack Jerome Jack is the patriarch of the family. He works two jobs to support everyone in the household and looks older than his forty years. He is constantly tired, but makes time to guide both Nora and Stanley through their tough decisions. Between the action depicted in the acts, Jack has a heart attack and is confined to his bed. Though he finds someone to cover for him at work for several weeks, Jack still worries about taking care of everyone. This becomes especially important when relatives who have escaped from Poland write of their imminent arrival in America.

Jacob Jerome See Jack Jerome

Kate Jerome Kate is Eugene's mother and nearly forty-years-old. She is also Blanche's elder sister. Kate takes most of the responsibility in keeping the household running smoothly, acting as mother to everyone. She ensures everyone eats and is properly taken care of according to their needs. She also manages the money, scrimping to feed everyone. While Kate might inject her opinion on situations, she refuses to make decisions for other people. Eugene believes that she is illogical about some of the things she yells at him about, and that she has some sort of second sight. Kate feels especially protective of her sister, Blanche. She does not like the Murphy family living across the street, especially when Frank Murphy shows an interest in her sister. In the second act, Kate reveals that she has also resented Blanche at times.

Stanley Jerome Stanley is Eugene's elder brother, nearly nineteen-years-old. He works in a hat store to help support his family. Stanley has a moral dilemma in the first act of the play. At work, his boss treated a black employee unfairly and Stanley stood up to him. Stanley must apologize for his actions or he will lose his job. After discussing the matter with his father, Stanley decides to apologize, but only because his family needs the money. In the second act, Stanley gambles away his weekly paycheck that the family desperately needs. Stanley leaves to join the army, but he does not enlist. He ultimately returns to the family and his job. Stanley is usually kind to his brother, Eugene, teaching him about the opposite sex and other worldly lessons, such as masturbation.

Blanche Morton Blanche is Kate's younger sister. She has been a widow for six years because her husband David died of cancer. Since then, she and her daughters have lived with the Jeromes because her husband left her penniless. Blanche has asthma. Blanche takes in some sewing to contribute to the household, but it does not amount to much money. Blanche feels guilty about her lack of earnings. She lets her sister dominate her. Though Blanche has not shown much interest in getting remarried, much to her sister's chagrin, she agrees to go on a date with a neighbor, Frank Murphy. He is in a car accident and it does not happen. After she and Kate fight following the aborted date, Blanche decides that she will move out and get a job. Kate convinces her to stay until she finds employment.

Laurie Morton Laurie is Blanche's younger daughter. She has a heart flutter and is rarely required to do any household labor. Laurie spends much of her time studying and reading.

Nora Morton Nora is Blanche's elder daughter. She is sixteen-years-old and very pretty. Nora takes dancing lessons and has a chance to audition for a Broadway producer. She is very angry throughout the play because she is not allowed to audition. Everyone insists that she graduate from high school instead. In the second act, Nora reveals that she is angry with her mother for favoring her younger sister because of her illness. She and Blanche reconcile after this revelation.




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