Let the Great World Spin Characters

Colum McCann


The “Walker”

The “walker” is based on the real-life stuntman Philippe Petit. He is a performer who relishes the thrill and peace he finds in tightrope walking. He devoted years of his life to planning and executing the walk between the towers of the World Trade Center. Author Colum McCann refers to the feat as the “Artistic Crime of the 20th Century.” Petit spent some time living on the streets of New York and suffered from its crime and violence. He became a bit of a scam artist and learned to use his talents to make money.


Corrigan is one of the main characters in this novel, but the author never tells the story from his perspective. Corrigan is only known through other characters. He has felt a calling to help people since he was a young man. He is devoted to his faith and to suffering for God and believes that poverty is a part of life. For Corrigan, what seems to matter most is doing the right thing. He is a good man and feels satisfaction knowing he can offer just a little kindness or comfort to those he sees as less fortunate than himself. He loves Abelita, but feels torn between her love and his religion. He struggles to reconcile his love for God and his feelings for Abelita, which he knows are good and pure. Of his brother, Ciaran says: “He was at the origin of things and I now had a meaning for my brother— he was a crack of light under the door, and yet that door was shut to him."


Ciaran left Dublin because the violence in Ireland began to affect his life. He is disappointed and somewhat disgusted with Corrigan’s life and living conditions, but he stays around to he can “look out” for his brother. He comes off as a jerk, but inside he is a good guy. The time he spends with Corrigan in New York changes him. He learns to see the world in a more positive way.


Tillie, also known as "Bliss," is a middle-aged prostitute who is unable to see a way out of the game. She has a kind heart, but is full of regret about the choices she has made in her life. She is protective of her daughter and believes she is keeping her out of trouble simply by keeping her close.


Jazzlyn is Tillie’s...

(The entire section is 918 words.)