Character List

Nick Corey—sheriff of Potts County; the book’s narrator and murderous main character.

Myra Corey—Nick’s shrewish wife.

Ken Lacey—Nick’s friend and the sheriff of a nearby county.

Buck—Ken Lacey’s deputy.

Lennie—Myra’s mentally challenged brother.

Amy Mason—Nick’s former girlfriend.

Rose Hauck—Myra’s best friend, and Nick’s lover.

Tom Hauck—Rose’s abusive husband.

Uncle John—an older black man beaten by Tom Hauck on the street.

J. S. Dinwiddie—the president of the bank in Pottsville.

Cameron “Curly” Trammell—one of the pimps that Nick kills.

Moose—the other pimp that Nick kills.

Robert Lee Jefferson—the county attorney and hardware store owner in Pottsville.

Sam Gaddis—a good man who runs against Nick for sheriff.

Henry Clay Fanning—the farmer who wants a reward for finding Tom’s body.

Zeke Carlton—the owner of the town cotton gin.

Stonewall Jackson Smith—the school superintendent.

Samuel Houston Taylor—a local business owner.

George Barnes—a detective with the Talkington Detective Agency.

Character Analysis

Nick Corey is the larger than life, strangely charming, and deeply dishonest and violent main character of Pop. 1280. Because he is the lead in a Thompson novel, he is also irresistible to women. He is sheriff of Pottsville, in Potts County, the smallest county in the state, and although he is essentially worthless as a lawman, he is a perfect sheriff for the town. He coasts through life, playing dumb and taking advice from anyone who offers it in ways that let him reach his goals without any more effort than necessary.

Nick explains his vision for the role he plays in Potts County in Chapter 23, very close to the end of the novel. In this near soliloquy, Nick makes it clear that he sees himself as striking down sinners in direct service to God and at God’s guidance. Rose waves this explanation away as self-justification and lies, but it does fit with Nick’s casual ease regarding violence. Killing does not upset him because he sees himself as doing God’s work.

The stature of his actions and his lies is indicated a bit earlier as well; in Chapter 21, Nick refers to himself as “the poet laureate of Potts County, by dang, and you could make up poems with the bots and assholes tying knots.” While this is partly idle thinking sparked by an accidental rhyme, it is also vividly true. Nick spins elaborate, poetic stories about vice and stupidity, and the people repeat them, as they do the work of a community poet. He is their speaker, as Thompson himself is for the filthy rural poor.

Myra Corey is almost completely negative. When they first meet at the state fair, Myra entices Nick into making sexual advances toward her and then accuses him of rape so that he will marry her. Since that time, she shows no sign of affection for Nick, and there are whispers that her developmentally disabled brother is not a brother but rather a sexually well-endowed idiot she keeps around for her...

(The entire section is 526 words.)