The Lost Weekend

by Charles Jackson

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

Don Birnam

The work’s protagonist, Don, is desperately addicted to alcohol, his favorite drink being whiskey. He seems to have a good heart, as is evidenced by the regret he feels for letting down his friends and family, yet his addiction is such that he is ready to commit all sorts of crimes, theft, and even murder so as to satisfy his needs. His emotional state is very imbalanced, and he fluctuates between fantasy and high ambition and crushing despair. He doesn’t want to give up alcohol, because he doesn’t believe he can. When he finally runs out of money, he is rescued by Helen and spends a period in withdrawal, but he finds means to obtain more alcohol and ends the work in the same jam as he began it.

Wick Birnam

Wick is Don’s concerned brother who does all he can to get his brother away from his addiction. For instance, he invites Don on a weekend away from the city, somewhere where alcohol will be harder to obtain. He fails, however, because his brother does not want the same things as he does.


Helen is a close friend of the two brothers. She used to love Don, but the love has become pity since the advent of his alcoholism. She takes him to her apartment and tries to clean him up, but he betrays her trust by selling her clothes, even if he does manage to keep himself from killing her maid.


Gloria Is a somewhat gullible woman who believes Don’s stories about being a rich man with a wife who is not interested in him. She is not happy when Don doesn’t show up at their date.


Bim is a male nurse who comes across quite aggressive in his treatment of Don. He is gay, but it is not clear if he is trying to seduce or simply to mock his patient.

The Doctor

The doctor who treats Don seems very detached. The implication is that in his eyes, Don is more of a product than a person.

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