Francis is the novel’s protagonist and narrator. A quiet, unassuming boy, Francis is an average kid in his hometown of Monument—neither popular nor an outcast. While he is not particularly athletic, Francis is an avid… (read full character analysis)
Larry, a young war veteran from Francis’s hometown, is the novel’s antagonist. Athletic, graceful, and charismatic, Larry is a hero in the lives of the children of Monument; he is a source of entertainment… (read full character analysis)
Nicole moves to Frenchtown in the seventh grade and eventually becomes Francis’ childhood sweetheart and Larry LaSalle’s star dance pupil. When she and Francis first meet, she teases him and he cannot summon… (read full character analysis)
Arthur is one of the Frenchtown veterans who frequents the St. Jude Club. He is the only patron to recognize Francis through his wounds and fake identity. He is also one of the only characters… (read full character analysis)
Dr. Abrams is the American surgeon who operates on Francis’ face during the war. He attempts to use humor to cheer up his patient; Dr. Abrams also urges Francis to find his plastic surgery… (read full character analysis)
Mrs. Belander is Francis’ French-Canadian landlady when he returns to Frenchtown, she is the first person from his past that he deceives with his false identity. Francis one day overhears her speaking to a neighbor and learns that Larry LaSalle has returned.
A triple amputee, Enrico befriends Francis at a hospital during the war. The two bond over their gruesome injuries and Enrico tries to help prepare Francis for life after the war, despite the fact that both men are contemplating eventual suicide, or “disposal,” as Enrico calls it.
The Strangle is the grizzled old bartender at the St. Jude Club and a former carnival wrestler known for his stranglehold. He is the keeper of the “Frenchtown Warriors” scrapbook: a collection of news clippings about the young men of Frenchtown who fought in World War II.
Norman is a Frenchtown boy that Francis meets during the war. The two spend a night reminiscing about the town, and Norman eventually tells Francis that Nicole and her family suddenly left Frenchtown shortly after Francis enlisted.
Uncle Louis takes in Francis after the death of his parents and younger brother Raymond. A quiet man who worked at the Monument Comb factory, he was always affectionate towards Francis but moved back to Canada during the war.
Marie lives next-door to Francis’ as a child and is a mutual friend between him and Nicole. She is the only Frenchtown resident to keep in touch with Nicole after her departure, besides the nuns.
Owner of the local drugstore, he hires Francis as a clerk when many of the Frenchtown men enlist in the armed forces.
Marie-Blanche is the murdered bride whose gruesome wedding led to the closure of Grenier’s Hall, the precursor to the Wreck Center. The tragedy of her death hangs over the building even after it is renovated and renamed.
The ex-fiancé of Marie-Blanche Touraine who hanged himself in a tool shed after murdering Marie and paralyzing her new husband at their wedding reception in the former Grenier’s Hall.
Louis is one of the children who frequented the Wreck Center. He loses to Francis in the final game of the Ping-Pong tournament, setting up Francis as the champion to challenge Larry LaSalle.
Raymond is Francis’ deceased younger brother. When pressed by Mrs. Belander for his name, Francis uses his brother’s first name and his mother’s maiden name.
The local priest.