The Winter of Our Discontent - Character Summaries

Setting | Character Summaries| Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception


Ethan Allen Hawley:  Grocery clerk, husband, and father.  Ethan decides to gain back his family’s riches by turning over his boss to the Immigration Service, obtaining a large plot of land from his best friend, and robbing a bank. 

Mary Hawley:  Wife of Ethan.  She is a patient and caring woman that has kept the family together through the hard times.  Even though she supports her husband, she wishes that he would make more of his life than working as a grocery clerk, and she pressures Ethan to make more money so that the family can keep up appearances in the town.

Red Baker:  The banker’s dog.  A red setter that Ethan speaks to in the mornings on his way to work.

Joseph Patrick Morphy:  The bank teller who works in the bank next to Ethan’s store.  He is “a good bookkeeper and a wonderful bank teller” (7).  Joey likes women but does not like commitment.  He is also a clever storyteller who has great knowledge of other people’s lives.

Alfio Marullo:  The owner of the grocery store.  Mr. Marullo is an illegal immigrant from Italy.  He came to America with nothing and managed to make a small fortune after working his way up from a sandwich cart.  Mr. Marullo is a businessman who skims off the top to earn an extra dollar on each deal. 

Mr. Baker:  The owner of the bank next to Ethan’s store.  Mr. Baker is involved in the town’s politics and growth.  He is also a businessman who believes in earning a little off the top.  He remembers the old days and seeks to bring the Hawley family name back to its glory next to the Bakers, since they were once the greatest families in New Baytown.

Margie Young-Hunt: A young, attractive woman who dates many of the men in town.  She is divorced and lives off the annulment.  She is searching for another man to support her because her ex-husband is going to die soon.  She is lonely and spends her spare time reading the fortunes of the women in town and flirting with the men.

Mr. Biggers:  A grocery wholesaler who works for B.B.D. and D.  He offers Ethan a bribe to take goods from his supplier.

Allen Hawley:  Ethan’s teenage son.  Allen dreams of the theater.  He talks about appearing on television so that he could win a fixed contest and make a lot of money.  He has little interest in books or education, focusing instead on finding the easy way out.  As a result, he plagiarizes an essay that he submits to a national contest.

Mary Ellen Hawley:  The young daughter of Ethan.  She is more interested in learning the family history and getting an education than her brother.  She cares deeply about her father but also wishes that the family had more money. 

Willie: “Our fat constable.” He is the night shift policeman, likes to gossip, and usually sleeps during his shift.

Stonewall Jackson Smith:  The day constable.  He is a good policeman with F.B.I. training.  He is a tough man who does not give his feelings away.  Ethan explains, “If you were going in for crime, the chief would be a man to avoid” (38). But even he does not arrest the corrupt town businessmen, because he is trying to protect his friends.

Danny Taylor:  The town drunk.  He was Ethan’s best friend growing up.  Both Danny and Ethan came from well-to-do families.  Danny owns a large plot of land where the town leaders want to build an airport.  He does not want to sell the land because it is all that makes him worth anything to the people of New Baytown. 

Old Captain:  Ethan’s grandfather.  Ethan imagines Old Captain as he is struggling through the important decisions in his life.  He uses Old Captain as a model for honest living and valor. 

Richard Walder:  Federal Agent who was sent to investigate Mr. Marullo and deport him.  He returns to New Baytown to give Ethan the store after he is touched by the description of Ethan’s honesty. 

Dunscombe:  The N.B.C. agent sent to inform Ethan that his son plagiarized.  He asks Ethan to forget the whole thing and not to punish his son because in doing so the story of how N.B.C. missed the plagiarism when distributing the awards would interest the media.


Setting | Character Summaries| Plot Synopsis | Critical Reception