Empire Falls Characters
by Richard Russo

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Empire Falls Characters

(Novels for Students)

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Candace Burke
Candace Burke is Tick’s new friend in art class. Candace is overweight, not particularly popular, and an unmotivated student, which is not surprising given that her mother’s favorite endearment for her is “moron.” Candace prefers discussing her love life to actually participating in class, and she begins most of her sentences with, “Oh-my-God-oh-my-God!”

Walt Comeau
Walt Comeau is a cocky, cheerful blowhard who challenges Miles to an arm-wrestling match every day. Walt wastes little time looking beyond the surface of any situation or person. To the Silver Fox, image is everything. Though he showers Janine with compliments on her appearance, these are the only compliments she gets.

To his credit, Walt has a positive outlook on life and seems genuinely fond of the regulars at the Grill. He remains optimistic about the town’s prospects, just as he continues to believe he will someday beat Horace Weymouth at cards.

Charlene Gardiner
Charlene Gardiner is the Empire Grill’s best waitress, a well-endowed, outspoken woman who feels it well within her rights to offer customers advice and enter into their conversations. Miles has pined for Charlene since high school, when he was fifteen and she was eighteen. She prefers bad men with fast cars, even after four failed marriages.

Bea Majeski
Bea Majeski is Janine Roby’s mother and the proprieter of Callahan’s, a local bar that is one of the few businesses in Empire Falls not owned by Francine Whiting. Bea is a no-nonsense, robust woman who speaks her mind and has little patience for her daughter’s midlife crisis. She loves Miles and is mystified by Janine’s attraction to Walt Comeau, whom she refers to as “that little banty rooster.”

Father Mark
Father Mark is the younger of the two priests at St. Catherine’s, Miles’s church. Father Mark is gay, though he remains celibate, and also a pacifist who has taken part in anti-war demonstrations. Between his unpopular political stance and rumors about his sexual orientation, the diocese is not happy with Father Mark, which is why he was sent to Empire Falls in the first place. He and Miles have become good friends, perhaps because they are both sensitive, educated men—a bit of an anomaly in Empire Falls.

Otto Meyer Jr.
Otto Meyer is the principal of Empire High School, a job that has given him both his livelihood and bleeding ulcers. Otto, known to his high school classmates as “Oscar Meyer, the weiner,” is an old friend of Miles; Otto came to his rescue in driver’s education, preventing Miles from wrecking the driver’s education car. Near the end of the novel, Otto saves Tick’s life as well and sacrifices his own.

Jimmy Minty
Miles’s next-door neighbor from childhood, Jimmy Minty, is now an Empire Falls policeman. Jimmy’s father, William Minty, was a petty thief, wife-beater, and poacher, who made a little extra money now and then as an “enforcer” for the Whitings when mill workers threatened to unionize. Miles realizes that, in his own perverse way, Jimmy really does want to be his friend, but Jimmy is enough like his father that Miles has no desire to take him up on the offer.

Zack Minty
Zack Minty, who until recently was Tick’s boyfriend, is cruel, coarse, and volatile. Zack keeps his friends (and girlfriends) not through common interests and shared opinions, but through intimidation and threats. His good looks and athletic ability have allowed him to get away with this behavior so far, but with his misconduct on the football field and his failing grades, it seems that Zack is riding for a fall.

Miles’s college roommate Peter and his wife Dawn are now writers of TV sitcoms in Los Angeles. Every summer they invite Miles to join them at their summer home on Martha’s Vineyard.

Christina Roby
See Tick Roby

David Roby
David’s brother Miles is Grace Roby’s problem child. Practically abandoned by Grace as a boy when she became obsessed with the Whiting household, David responded by becoming a...

(The entire section is 2,684 words.)