The novel’s protagonist, a lonely, elderly man who has spent his life working in maintenance at Ruby Pier, an amusement park by the ocean. Eddie is from a working-class family of Romanian origin… read analysis of Eddie
Eddie’s father (whose name is never given) is the darkest character in the novel. A violent, misogynistic alcoholic who works a low-paying job as the head of maintenance at Ruby Pier, he neglects and… read analysis of Eddie’s Father
A gentle, comforting, stay-at-home mother devoted to her children and to Eddie’s father. She often tries to stop her husband and other men from violent and destructive behavior, but is usually helpless against it… read analysis of Eddie’s Mother
Eddie’s only love interest, a sunny and energetic woman. Like Eddie’s mother, she is kind and gentle, and preoccupied mainly with her husband and having children. However, in contrast with Eddie’s mother, Marguerite… read analysis of Marguerite
An alcoholic Irishman, the longtime close friend of Eddies’ mother and father. Mickey is impulsive, festive, and lonely. Mickey helps Eddie’s father get his job at Ruby Pier, and when Eddie is born, he… read analysis of Mickey Shea
A young, cheerful man who works with Eddie in maintenance at Ruby Pier. He and his wife’s families are from Mexico, where many of their relatives still live. Eddie and Dominguez have a warm… read analysis of Dominguez
“Amy or Annie”
A little girl whom Eddie has spoken to a few times at Ruby Pier, and who calls him “Eddie Maint’nance.” Eddie dies saving this little girl, whose name he can’t remember. When he sees… read analysis of “Amy or Annie”
Mentioned only briefly, a teenage boy who frequently visits Ruby Pier. Nicky turns out to be the grandson of Ruby, for whom the amusement park was named. Nicky loses his car key on the… read analysis of Nicky
The Blue Man
A member of the human “freak show” at Ruby Pier during Eddie’s childhood, and one of the five people Eddie meets in heaven. He is an anxious, lonely, and forgiving man. Born Joseph Corvelzchik… read analysis of The Blue Man
The leader of Eddie’s unit in the Philippines during WWII. Born into a military family during wartime, battle is at the center of the Captain’s life. The Captain is intelligent and sensible, and does… read analysis of The Captain
One of the men in Eddie’s unit during the war. After the members of the unit are kidnapped by the enemy and forced to work in a coalmine, Rabozzo “keeps a poker face” during… read analysis of Rabozzo
Crazies One, Two, Three and Four
The neurotic, desperate Filipino soldiers who kidnap Eddie and his unit during the war. As malnourished as Eddie and his men, the “Crazies” keep the unit for several months, eventually planning to work them to… read analysis of Crazies One, Two, Three and Four
The third person Eddie meets in heaven, the woman for whom the first version of Ruby Pier was named. She is graceful, competent, and smart. Like the other women in the novel, she dedicates herself… read analysis of Ruby
Ruby’s husband, a young, handsome, risk-taking entrepreneur whose endeavors bring him great wealth. He is enthralled with glamour, money, the ocean, and Ruby herself. He pours his energy and money into building and… read analysis of Emile
Eddie’s friend during his thirties, Noel runs a laundry business. Noel is obsessed with the racetrack, and frequently influences Eddie to indulge with him in their shared gambling habit. Noel is with Eddie at… read analysis of Noel
Eddie’s fifth person in heaven, a little Filipino girl who Eddie unknowingly kills while he and his unit are escaping captivity during the war. Tala is affectionate, trusting, and wise. Following her mother’s instructions… read analysis of Tala
God is only mentioned in four instances in the book. The first is when the Blue Man tells Eddie that the Five People in heaven are a gift from God to understand one’s life on… read analysis of God
The novel is written from the point of view of an omniscient narrator. Though the narrator is not a character in any of the stories, and never speaks in the first person, his (presumably the… read analysis of Narrator
Another young man who works in Maintenance at Ruby Pier, Willie is there with Dominguez when Eddie dies. He joins Dominguez in missing Eddie.
One of the men in Eddie’s unit, Smitty is usually quiet. He is held captive along with the rest of the unit, and helps Eddie lead their escape.
Another of the men in Eddie’s unit, Morton has a nervous tick of chatting constantly. He is held captive along with the rest of the unit, and also helps Eddie lead their escape.