(Short Stories for Students)

Nora Cronin
Nora is an old girlfriend of the narrator’s father. She lives with her old, blind mother in a farmhouse. She has never married, a fact that causes her some bitterness. However, she still demonstrates a zest for life, chatting happily and dancing with her visitors. Nora is unlike many people the narrator has met; for one thing, she is Catholic. But the narrator is drawn to her, despite a certain coarseness of appearance (as typified by her profuse sweating, fleshy bosom, and the dark hairs above her lip).

The Father
See Ben Jordan

Ben Jordan
The narrator’s father is a man who does his best to keep up the spirits of his family, despite their recent financial hardships. His tenaciousness is indicated by his holding onto the family fox farm until it was impossible to keep it any longer. Now, he uses that same quality to try and make the best of his new job as a ‘‘pedlar.’’ He makes up songs to amuse himself and exaggerates what happens on his job— even the more unpleasant incidents—to make his family laugh. His visit to Nora demonstrates that he, like his wife, feels drawn to the past.

Mrs. Jordan
The mother continually expresses her discontentment with the present status of her family. She denigrates her husband’s job, refuses to allow her children to play with the neighbors’ children, and overall finds nothing redemptive in their present life. She...

(The entire section is 500 words.)