Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 575


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Mick, a man in his late twenties, Aston’s brother. He is the first character seen onstage in the play, although he does not speak or interact with the other characters until the end of act 1. From the outside, he tries to control the other two. When he does speak, he tends to utter either single lines or long incoherent ramblings about unseen friends and relatives, sprinkled with dozens of London place names, financial terms, and interior decorator’s phrases. He owns the derelict building in which Aston has his flat, and he has dreams of converting it into a high-class penthouse, dreams that he has no apparent means to fulfill. He has tried and failed to reconnect with Aston by giving him a home, and he hopes now that he can get to Aston through Davies. Instead, he becomes jealous of Aston’s relationship with Davies and turns his anger on them both.


Aston, a man in his late thirties. He lives alone in a run-down flat piled high with old paint buckets, boxes of screws and nails, a shopping cart, and even a detached kitchen sink. A former factory worker, he has been unemployed ever since undergoing electric shock treatments years ago. The treatments left him brain-damaged, and he endures terrible headaches. He rescues Davies from a fight and brings him to his own flat, where he offers him a bed, a bit of tobacco for his pipe, an old pair of shoes, and, eventually, a job as caretaker of the building. Aston is planning to build a wooden shed in the backyard and spends hours planning the materials and tools he will need, but clearly he will never even begin the project. Instead, he sits on his bed and pokes at a broken plug with a screwdriver to satisfy his urge to work with his hands. He is unable to stay focused on any one idea very long or to form any real human connections. He plans to complete various tasks or talk with people again after he has built his shed. Although he does not recognize his connection to his brother and to his room, they are all he has, and when Davies tries to come between Aston and Mick, Mick rejects him and clings to the security—and isolation—of his life in the flat.


Davies, an old tramp from Sidcup. He is argumentative and paranoid, seeing danger in every brown or black face and hearing a threat in every accent different from his own. When Aston rescues him from a fight with a Scot, Davies reveals that this is not the first time he has brawled with foreigners; he stoutly believes that none of these fights was in any way his fault. He worries about his papers, which he has left with a friend in Sidcup; he believes he must retrieve the papers before he can work or move on, yet he makes no effort to go after them. He fears that the junked gas stove in Aston’s flat will kill him, although it is not connected. Frequently, he awakens Aston in the night with the sounds of his dreaming. When he moves in with Aston, he is willing to help out and to assume the unspecified duties of the caretaker, but soon he becomes aggressive and demanding. When he tries to drive a wedge between the brothers, they throw him back on the street.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 792

Aston, in his early thirties, is Mick's brother. He seems quite generous, as is indicated by his rescuing Davies from a potential brawl and later bringing the tramp into his own house. Once he brings Davies home, Aston continues to try to care for him, giving him tobacco, attempting to find shoes for him, and even replacing Davies's bag when it is stolen. Unlike Mick, Aston is gentle and calm, enduring Davies's continual complaints about all that he is offered.

At the end of the second act, Aston reveals what may be at the root of his exceedingly calm nature; sometime before he...

(The entire section contains 1367 words.)

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Critical Essays