Michael Frayn

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Stephen Wheatley

The narrator and protagonist of the novel, Stephen is an elderly man who recounts a time in his childhood sixty years before. Describing himself as “the one with the stick-out ears and the too short… read analysis of Stephen Wheatley

Keith Hayward

Stephen’s childhood best friend who is responsible for declaring the “six simple words” (“My mother is a German spy”) that begin their mission of spying on Keith’s mother. The novel clearly illustrates Keith’s… read analysis of Keith Hayward

Keith’s Father / Mr. Ted Hayward

A stoic ex-officer who displays his military achievement for killing five Germans in the First World War, Keith’s father largely spends his time doing work around the house and the garden. The garage is his… read analysis of Keith’s Father / Mr. Ted Hayward

Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward

Keith’s calm and composed mother, who Keith proclaims is a German spy and is made the subject of the two boys’ spy operations. Stephen, whom she initially addresses only indirectly, describes her as… read analysis of Keith’s Mother / Mrs. “Bobs” Hayward

Auntie Dee / Mrs. Tracey

Auntie Dee is the sister of Keith’s mother, mother of Milly, and wife of Uncle Peter. Unlike her sister, who is composed and collected, Auntie Dee is described as short, hectic, and cheerful… read analysis of Auntie Dee / Mrs. Tracey
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Stephen’s Father / Mr. Wheatley

Stephen’s father, a German immigrant to Britain, is the actual German spy in the novel (but working for the British side), though Stephen and Keith do not know this. Stephen describes his father as a… read analysis of Stephen’s Father / Mr. Wheatley

Stephen’s Mother / Mrs. Wheatley

An Englishwoman who married Mr. Wheatley (a German) and moved back to England before the start of the War. She is described by Stephen as always “sighing and anxious” about her two sons. She is… read analysis of Stephen’s Mother / Mrs. Wheatley

Uncle Peter / the Man

Keith’s uncle and Auntie Dee’s husband, who is an air force officer supposedly away at war, but is actually hiding in a field. He is glorified in the novel for his participation in… read analysis of Uncle Peter / the Man

Barbara Berrill

Barbara, who is one year older than Stephen, lives in house No. 6 on the Close. Younger Stephen considers her to be annoying and typically “girlish.” She is often said to be wearing her… read analysis of Barbara Berrill

Geoff Wheatley

Geoff is Stephen’s older brother, who failed his Common Entrance exam and ended up going to the same “wrong school” as Stephen. Although he is a bit of a rebel (he smokes cigarettes with… read analysis of Geoff Wheatley

Miss Durrant

The deceased previous tenant of Braemar, the house that stood between No. 3 (the Pinchers) and No. 4 (the Geests) and which was bombed by a stray German bomb. Stephen speculates that Miss Durrant was… read analysis of Miss Durrant
Minor Characters
Auntie Dee’s and Uncle Peter’s daughter, who is seemingly as cheerful and energetic as her parents. She is the reason that Keith’s mother does Auntie Dee’s shopping, and she possibly provides them with a believable cover when they must secretly take care of Uncle Peter in hiding.
Mr. Gort
The old man living in House No. 11. Keith claims that he is a murderer, but this is highly unlikely given Keith’s penchant for imagination and the similar way in which he assumes his mother to be German spy.
Mr. McAfee
The neighbor who lives in house No. 8. It’s stated that he sometimes acts as a kind of policeman for the neighborhood, and at several points Stephen considers writing a letter to him revealing Keith’s mother’s activities as a supposed German spy.
Deirdre Berrill
Barbara’s older sister, who is dating Stephen’s brother, Geoff. Barbara mentions that she and Geoff kiss each other and smoke cigarettes together.