The narrator, an unnamed individual of unspecified gender, obviously a member of the privileged class. For some reason, this person has settled in a working-class area of a mill town, in the house where the two protagonists of the story once lived. He or she owns the statue of the “korl woman.”
Hugh Wolfe, a nineteen-year-old iron mill furnace tender. Born into poverty and a mill worker since childhood, he is undernourished and tubercular. Because he does not indulge in vicious pastimes, he is considered effeminate by his fellow workers. His kindness has earned him the love of his cousin Deborah and the young Janey. When upper-class visitors to the mill praise his skill at carving, Hugh thinks that a better life might be possible, and he keeps the stolen money Deborah gives him. Arrested for the theft and sentenced to prison, he commits suicide.
Deborah, Hugh’s cousin, a cotton mill worker. She is called “the hunchback” because of her deformity. Her love for Hugh is the central truth in her life. To help him, she steals a pocketbook from the wealthy Mitchell. As Hugh’s supposed accessory, she receives only a short prison sentence. After her release, she is taken in by a Quaker woman and spends the rest of her life in a mountain settlement.
Janey, a young Irish girl. She is important primarily as the focus of...
(The entire section is 408 words.)