Characters Discussed

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

Eugene Morris Jerome

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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 advice.


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Critical Essays