Liza Kemp, a working girl of Lambeth who lives a brutal life in that depressing borough. She works in a factory and gives most of her wages to a drunken mother who never speaks civilly to anyone. Spurning a faithful lover, Liza accepts a married man who has five children. After many unpleasant events, such as a thorough beating at the hands of her lover’s wife, Liza dies of a miscarriage for which her lover is responsible.
Jim Blakeston, Liza’s married lover, who is typical of the brutish lower-class husband. He beats his wife, drinks too much, and is fond of but neglectful of his children. Liza’s death depresses him, but no one doubts that his shoddy life will go on about as usual without her.
Tom, a young man of Liza’s class whose love for her is honest. When her neighbors turn against Liza, Tom remains faithful. Though knowing she is to bear Jim’s child, he wants to marry her. His concern for her is the one genuinely kind emotion in the novel.
Sally, Liza’s friend, who is typical of the young girl who marries a brutish husband but has too much pride to disclose that he abuses her.
Mrs. Blakeston, Jim’s wife, who gives Liza a fatal beating for stealing her husband.