Charlie Tynan, a London playwright. Charlie is Da’s foster child. At the age of forty-two, he has returned to Ireland to bury his deceased father. He is a troubled man who is unable to exorcise Da’s presence from his memory. Charlie’s earlier abjuration of Da’s rustic sensibility is a source of shame for him, as is his perception of his father as boorish and obstinate. His father’s posthumous visitations to Charlie’s mind are reflections of Charlie’s fixation on Da and the remarkable impressions he left on Charlie throughout their embattled relationship.
Nick Tynan, called Da, a longtime gardener for the Prynne family. Da is eighty-three years old at his death but appears in the play at various ages from his fifties to the time of his death. Da is a cantankerous man, even when younger, yet he is proud of his fifty-eight years of diligent service as a gardener for the Prynne family. Although he is contrary to people like Drumm, his insistence on haunting Charlie is a reflection of his forceful personality and dominant role in shaping Charlie’s life.
Margaret (Mag) Tynan
Margaret (Mag) Tynan, often called Mother, Da’s wife and Charlie’s mother. She is in her late seventies at her reported death, but the play presents her during her late fifties. Mag is devoted to both Da and Charlie and exhibits pride in her rearing of Charlie after his natural mother abandoned him. Her one act of defiance is to accept an invitation to tea from an old friend and thus to alienate Da.
Mr. Drumm, a clerk. He is a priggish, arrogant man in his mid-fifties in one flashback, in which Charlie remembers his first job, when he was seventeen. He is a bookish man who appreciates Charlie’s literary interests but strongly dislikes Da’s antagonistic, perverse treatment of him when he first arrives to hire Charlie. He admonishes Charlie about embracing any of life’s opportunities. He returns to Charlie’s house after Da’s funeral and admits his own shortcomings.
Young Charlie, Charlie as a seventeen-year-old. He is slightly naïve and seeks to break away from his parents’ influence, especially that of Da. He is excited about his employment at Drumm’s clerical office and somewhat cynical about the elder Charlie when the two exchange words. The elder Charlie must often put his younger incarnation in his place.
Oliver, Charlie’s childhood friend. Oliver is in his early forties and appears at the house after Da’s funeral. His childish perspective on life belies his strictly mercenary interest in the now-empty house and his hopes to acquire it. He also appears later in the play, during a flashback of Charlie’s departure for London.
Mary Tate, a twenty-five-year-old woman from Charlie’s past. Mary appears once in the play and is notable for her effects on Charlie’s libido. Described as the “Yellow Peril” by Charlie, Mary is an aloof, lonely young woman who teases Charlie when he flirts with her. Her mysterious reputation as a bad girl is quickly stripped from her by Da when he meets her and Charlie on a park bench. Da reveals that she is really a young girl from Glasthule whose father abandoned her and her family. Her identity restored, she no longer is the conquest Charlie had hoped for.
Mrs. Prynne, the daughter of Jacob Prynne, owner of the garden that Da has tended for more than fifty-eight years. She is fifty years old and apparently prim. Although she is kind in her words to Da, her pension contribution to Da of twenty-six pounds per year is viewed as miserly by young Charlie. Unaware of the slight she has given Da, she exacerbates it further by giving Da a mounted set of fused spectacles from the great fire of the San Francisco earthquake—one of her father’s keepsakes.
See Nick Tynan
Charlie's adoptive mother appears in his memory scenes with his father. In one memory, she tells Drumm that Charlie was adopted, that his birth mother attempted...
(The entire section is 1,334 words.)