Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 374
John Thomas Raynor ( “Coddy”): He is the good looking chief inspector on the tram lines. He has a "ruddy" (red-checked, healthy) complexion, a brown mustache, and is "fairly" tall and "agile" (graceful). He has a temper, indicated by the fact he becomes furious when addressed by the insulting nickname Coddy. Most of all, he is a womanizer: he loves and leaves many of the good looking women working the tram line. He swaggers around in a self-assured way and is willing to take risks. Since most of the healthy young men are at the front, he is a marked contrast to the other weak and "crippled" men working on the trams—and thus very desirable to the women.
Annie Stone: Annie is typical of the fiery women who work on the trams during World War I. She is what was then called a New Woman: fearless, feared, and ruthlessly competent at her job. She is anything but soft, dependent, and Victorian. She could, the narrator says, "hold her own against 10,000." From the start, she is depicted as a potentially emasculating figure, one who can order men around, and rob them of their manhood. She is intelligent and wants a real relationship with John, not simply sex. But when she can't get what she wants, she takes on an aggressive, masculine role, culminating in hitting him with the buckle end of a belt. In order to subdue him, she emasculates him, leaving him torn and bleeding and, ironically, no longer of use to her, as she wants a "real" man.
Nora Purdy: Annie's tram line friend, she is tall, pale, and has beautiful blond hair. She is also described as somewhat secretive. Since John has toyed with her, she joins Annie in ganging up on him.
Muriel Baggaley, Laura, Sharp, and Polly Birkin: Some of the tramline women John has loved and left, who want revenge on him. They follow Annie's directions in attacking him by pinching him, slapping him, and pulling his hair, though it is done more in "good fun" at first, suggesting a release of sexual energy more than malice. Later, the violence escalates. All these women, like Annie and Nora, want John to choose one woman and remain faithful to her.