Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 370
Old Woman Magoun is the main character of the story. She's an old, strong lady without a lot of social niceties. She takes care of her granddaughter. She's a hard worker who has a lot of influence with the community. However, she's not able to completely protect her granddaughter from the man who might be her father when he wants to take Lily back. She decides that it's better to let Lily eat poisoned berries and die than to go live with her father and be used as payment for his debt to another man. After Lily dies, she carries her doll around with her.
Lily Barry is the childlike granddaughter of Old Woman Magoun. Her mother died soon after she was born and the community isn't sure whether her father is actually Nelson. She carries a doll wherever she goes. According to Mary Wilkins, Old Lady Magoun helped Lily achieve spiritual growth as she "poured the goodness of her own soul into this little receptive vase of another." Lily is almost fourteen; she's kind, sweet, and naive.
Nelson Barry is Lily's supposed father. He's the black sheep of his family which was well-off, though almost all of them are dead now. Only his sister Isabel, who Old Woman Magoun calls half-witted, remains. He rarely pays attention to Lily until she goes into the store at the beginning of the story and he realizes he can use her to pay off his gambling debts. Then he comes to Old Woman Magoun to claim his daughter.
Sally Jinks is Old Woman Magoun's friend. She's the one who suggests that Lily go to the store the day she runs into her father.
Jim Willis is a supposedly handsome man who takes an interest in Lily. Old Woman Magoun thinks that Nelson lost to Jim at cards and is only interested in taking his daughter back so that he can use Lily to pay the debt to Jim.
Lawyer Mason is a lawyer that Old Woman Magoun consults with in Greenham. His wife, Maria Mason, feeds Lily sour apples and milk. After Old Woman Magoun lets Lily eat the poisoned berries, she blames the food Mrs. Mason gave her for the stomach pain.