Donal Davoren, an aspiring poet who shares a tenement room with Mr. Shields. He is a man of about thirty with a strong romantic streak. Davoren evinces a mixture of weakness and strength. When a rumor begins that he is a “gunman” on the Republican side of the civil war, Davoren proves susceptible to the admiration and flattery that his new reputation brings him. This seemingly innocent deception is the foundation of his romance with Minnie Powell. When it threatens to bear serious consequences and the British authorities appear, Davoren weakens and proves unable to face danger.
Seumas Shields, a peddler of shoddy goods, a lazy and superstitious man who loudly voices both nationalist sentiments and condemnation of the Republican gunmen. Shields has pretensions to literary and political ideals, but his ideals are merely catchphrases inserted into his conversation. His chief enemy, in reality, is his landlord, who demands payment of rent past due. Like Davoren, he proves cowardly in the face of British military authority.
Tommy Owens, a resident of the tenement, a small, unexceptional man about twenty-five years old. He is a hero worshiper who breaks into patriotic song at any opportunity and who vows that he would die for Ireland. Owens is primarily responsible for creating the false public image of Davoren as a gunman.
(The entire section is 539 words.)