Harry Heegan, a boisterous and athletic young man. He is established as a local hero early in the play, winning the cup, the “silver tassie,” for his football club while he is on leave from the army. In love with Jessie, Harry is a rather unthinking man, devoted to the senses. He takes for granted his own strength and health and the adoration of others. After he is wounded in battle and his legs are paralyzed, he loses his standing at home as well as Jessie’s love, and he becomes a bitter outcast, haunting his former friends and ultimately renouncing them.
Teddy Foran, a neighbor and comrade of Harry who is married to a woman who prefers to have him away at war. He is large and powerful and is first seen chasing his battered wife into the Heegans’ home. Physical dominance over others is his most notable trait: He breaks all the crockery in his home before his leave is ended. He is rendered powerless, and dependent on his wife, when he is blinded in battle.
Barney Bagnal, a friend and comrade of Harry, a pleasant, unexceptional young man. He is clearly in Harry’s shadow when they are home on leave, and he is tied to a gunwheel throughout the entire second act as punishment for stealing a chicken. Despite his unheroic character in much of the play, it is Barney who is the hero at home after the war. He has come home unscathed and decorated; he is the latest hero of the football club and Jessie’s new lover. He comes to represent all that Harry has lost and finally rejects....
(The entire section is 655 words.)