Maggie, a girl who has grown up in the slums of New York. Although surrounded by corruption of all sorts throughout her youth, she has remained uncontaminated by it. When she falls in love with Pete, a friend of her brother, her moral deterioration begins. After she has lived with him, her family, who are anything but models of decorum, will have nothing to do with her. She turns to prostitution but finds it hard to support herself; eventually, she commits suicide.
Jimmy, Maggie’s brother. After his father’s death, he goes to work to support Maggie and their mother. He quickly falls into the normal patterns of life for men of his class, has a succession of affairs, and fathers several illegitimate children. When Maggie tries to return home after her affair with Pete, he is highly indignant and will do nothing to help her.
Pete, Jimmy’s friend and Maggie’s lover. After seducing Maggie, he quickly tires of her and turns her out. Thereafter, he denies any responsibility toward her.
The Mother, a woman given to drink and constant haranguing with her husband and children. When Maggie and Jimmy were small, she left them to shift for themselves most of the time, but it is she who assumes an attitude of outraged virtue when Maggie tries to return home. After her daughter’s death, she is inconsolable.