Patrick, a hero for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the 1920’s, now the caretaker of a lodging house that is a thinly disguised brothel. Pat has a tendency to exaggerate his service during the 1920’s, during which he lost a leg and was imprisoned by the British. Scornful of the current IRA (and most aspects of contemporary life), he uses his leg as an excuse for drinking as much and doing as little work as possible. He retains, however, a genuine affection and respect for Monsewer, who was his leader in the earlier independence movement. His cynical detachment lets him recognize and regret the danger the hostage is in without compelling him to do much to avert that danger. He believes in enjoying whatever pleasures are available, as a way of merely getting through life.
Leslie A. Williams
Leslie A. Williams, a nineteen-year-old private in the British army, stationed in Armagh, Northern Ireland. He is the hostage of the title. Too young to vote, innocent of politics and history, and an orphan who does not even have a girlfriend, he is coming out of a pub when the IRA “captures” him, imprisons him in Pat’s boardinghouse, and threatens to kill him if the British execute a convicted IRA terrorist they are holding.
Teresa, a country girl serving as skivvy in Pat’s boardinghouse. Also nineteen years old, innocent of politics and history, and an orphan, she...
(The entire section is 448 words.)