Frank Alpine The protagonist; his regeneration organizes the plot; twenty-five years old.
Helen Bober The only living child of Morris and Ida Bober; a love object to Frank Alpine; twenty-three years old.
Morris Bober The owner of a small, failing grocery store; he is largely responsible for the regeneration of Frank Alpine; sixty years old.
Ida Bober The devoted but acerbic wife of Morris Bober.
Ephraim Bober The long-dead infant son of Morris and Ida; the symbol and repository of Morris’ faded hopes.
Breitbart A peddler of electric light bulbs; devoted father of simpleminded Hymie.
Nick and Tessie Fuso The only tenants in the upstairs portion of Morris Bober’s decaying building; Italian-Americans.
Carl Johnson Known as Carl the painter and the Swedish painter; in debt to Morris Bober for groceries; poverty-stricken.
Julius Karp The flourishing owner of a liquor store near Morris Bober’s grocery; rents space to a competitor of Morris.
Louis Karp Son of and assistant to Julius Karp; bumbling and unsuccessful suitor of Helen Bober.
The Macher A Jew of advancing years; offers, for a fee, to burn down Morris Bober’s building for the insurance money.
Al Marcus Salesman of paper products; dying of cancer.
Detective Minogue Hard-bitten and puritanical Irish-American cop; violently vindictive toward his criminal son.
Ward Minogue Initiator and partner with Frank Alpine in robbing Morris Bober; cynically criminal; corrosively bitter and ill.
Betty Pearl Friend of Helen Bober, but alienated from Helen by her own conventionality.
Nat Pearl Formerly and briefly a successful casual lover of Helen Bober; brilliant law student.
Sam Pearl Father of Betty and Nat; owns the neighborhood candy store; successful bettor on horse races.
Podolsky Jewish refugee immigrant who considers buying Morris Bober’s store until he inspects its meager trade.
Pederson and Taast Norwegian competitors of Morris Bober; Taast buys out Pederson.
Schmitz The German competitor of Morris Bober; because of ill health, he sells out to Taast and Pederson.
Charlie Sobeloff Former business partner of Morris Bober; ruthlessly cheated Morris for his own gain; now runs a successful self-service market.