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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Francis "Francie" Brady is the troubled and violent protagonist of the novel. He conceives a hatred for his neighbor Mrs. Nugent after she calls his highly dysfunctional family "a bunch of pigs." Mrs. Nugent later catches Francie pretending to be a pig by defecating on her floor, and she has him arrested. He later returns to murder her.

Benny Brady is Francie's father. He is a bitter and abusive drunk. He has mistreated his wife, Mrs. Brady, from the beginning of their marriage, driving her to a stint in a mental institution and her eventual suicide.

Alo Brady is Benny Brady's brother. He is jovial and popular with locals. When he comes to visit, the locals gather and spend the evening singing along with him. Francie admires him, but after the guests leave, drunken Benny berates him, calling him a fake and a liar. Francie runs away from home to Dublin, where he becomes a petty thief.

Joe Purcell is Francie Brady's best childhood friend in the first part of the story. Later, he moves on with his life, and when Francie tracks him down to try re-establish their friendship, Joe is distant, and it is clear he has moved on.

Phillip Nugent is the son of the Brady family's critical neighbor, Mrs. Nugent. Francie and Joe befriend Phillip but end up stealing his collection of comic books. Joe Purcell later becomes friends with Phillip, after he has rejected Francie for his growing delinquency and violent tendencies.

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