Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

“Captain” Jack Boyle

“Captain” Jack Boyle, called the “paycock” by his wife because of his slow, consequential strut. The quintessence of impracticality, Jack needs only enough money for his daily consumption of ale or whiskey. News of an inheritance of two thousand pounds from a distant relative and the subsequent reversal, because of a legal technicality in the will, make little difference in the paycock’s life. His few fleeting dreams of better conditions for the Boyle family are no discouragement to the “captain” when he learns that the money will not be forthcoming; he is drunk, he has sixpence in his pocket, and he is with “Joxer” Daly, a longtime drinking pal. That they are in an almost empty room (the unpaid-for furniture having been reclaimed) while they discuss their devotion to Ireland and the wretched state of the world is inconsequential.

Juno Boyle

Juno Boyle, his wife. Once a pretty woman, she now has a look of listless and harassed anxiety. This appearance results from a life as Jack Boyle’s wife and mother of their two children. Under more favorable conditions, she probably would be handsome, active, and clever. Her lot in life is to achieve some semblance of practicality to balance her husband’s insensibility.


Mary, their twenty-two-year-old daughter. Like her mother, she would be an attractive woman under better circumstances. Looking for improved circumstances leads Mary to an affair and ultimately to pregnancy; her would-be benefactor abandons her. Despite her active mind, shown in her reading and her imagination, life probably will continue to pull her back as she works futilely...

(The entire section is 699 words.)