The protagonist of Winesburg, Ohio. George Willard’s coming-of-age from an adolescent boy to a man serves as the central plot arc, and his interactions with the novel’s myriad characters link the interconnected stories together… read analysis of George Willard
George Willard’s mother. Elizabeth inherited the New Willard House hotel from her father, and it is now run by her husband Tom Willard. Elizabeth is chronically ill with a depressive demeanor and spends… read analysis of Elizabeth Willard
A local doctor who is plagued by tragedy and subsequently haunted by grief and loneliness. Reefy is deeply introspective and poetic, constantly scribbling down thoughts on scraps of paper as he tries obsessively to make… read analysis of Doctor Reefy
George Willard’s father. Tom is ashamed of the “shabby” New Willard House hotel that he took over after the death of his wife Elizabeth’s father. He is also resentful and embarrassed of his… read analysis of Tom Willard
The owner of a prosperous farm outside of Winesburg several generations before the novel’s contemporary stories take place. Jesse takes over the Bentley family farm after his brothers are killed in the Civil War and… read analysis of Jesse Bentley
The only child of Jesse Bentley. Jesse resents Louise for being female, as he wanted a son instead of a daughter to help him fulfill his prophetic mission of serving God. As a result… read analysis of Louise Bentley
The primary love interest of George Willard. The daughter of a wealthy banker, Helen has a privileged upbringing and is the object of several boys’ affections, including George’s close friend Seth Richmond. Despite… read analysis of Helen White
Wing Biddlebaum / Adolph Meyers
A strange, socially-isolated field laborer whose only friend is George Willard. Wing gets his name from his uncontrollably restless hands that move incessantly like the wings of a caged bird. A former schoolteacher in… read analysis of Wing Biddlebaum / Adolph Meyers
The son of the Hardy family who Louise Bentley goes to live with as a teenager. He has a love affair with Louise and marries her when she fears she may be pregnant. After the… read analysis of John Hardy
The son of Louise Bentley and John Hardy, David has a troubled childhood due to his parents’ strained marriage. His mother behaves erratically and is only affectionate toward David on one occasion when he… read analysis of David Hardy
An unnamed elderly writer who only appears in the novel’s introductory story. The writer has a prophetic vision of disturbing figures whom he writes about in “The Book of the Grotesque.” In this book… read analysis of The Writer
The Standard Oil agent in Winesburg. Joe is a tiny, highly energetic man who regularly accosts people to tell them about his wild, ranting ideas. Wanting to earn the respect of other men in town… read analysis of Joe Welling
A twenty-seven-year-old clerk at Winney’s Dry Goods Store. When Alice was a teenager, she had a passionate love affair with a man named Ned Currie who promised to stay with her forever. Ned eventually moves… read analysis of Alice Hindman
Winesburg’s telegraph operator. Wash is a filthy, obese man who does not associate with other men in town and is notoriously misogynistic. Seeing George Willard kiss Belle Carpenter inspires Wash to warn George about the… read analysis of Wash Williams
One of several young women whom George Willard dates. At sixteen years old, Belle works as a milliner in a women’s hat store. She is being courted by the local bartender Ed Hanby but continues… read analysis of Belle Carpenter
A close friend and peer of George Willard. After the death of his father, Seth is raised by a struggling single mother who is unable to discipline him. Although the townspeople view Seth as… read analysis of Seth Richmond
Tom Hard’s seven-year-old daughter. Tandy experiences the loss of her mother and is neglected under the care of her atheistic father. A drunk stranger who comes to Winesburg shares a mysterious prophecy with the… read analysis of Tandy Hard
Reverend Curtis Hartman
The forty-year-old pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Winesburg. Hartman is “quiet and unpretentious” and is a dedicated minister who is well-liked by the townspeople. Despite this, he feels limited in his role at the… read analysis of Reverend Curtis Hartman
A local schoolteacher who is known for her cold, unhappy demeanor. Kate lives with her aunt across from the Presbyterian Church of Winesburg. Reverend Hartman can see into Kate’s bedroom the church bell tower and… read analysis of Kate Swift
Enoch returns to his hometown of Winesburg after living in New York City for fifteen years and confides in George Willard about his life. He senses a “youthful sadness” in George to which he can… read analysis of Enoch Robinson
A newcomer in town, Elmer is a young merchant whose family owns the Cowley & Son’s store in Winesburg. The Cowley family is branded as “queer” due to the bizarre array of things they sell… read analysis of Elmer Cowley
A laborer who works on a farm outside of Winesburg with fellow farmhand Hal Winters. He is a stoic, responsible man with a wife and six children. When Hal accidentally gets a girl pregnant… read analysis of Ray Pearson
A sixteen-year-old boy from Cincinnati who moves to Winesburg with his grandmother. Despite having a rough upbringing and losing both of his parents, Tom is a soft-spoken, observant boy who is easily made happy and… read analysis of Tom Foster
A farmhand who works with Ray Pearson. Hal is an irresponsible young man who was a troublemaker in his youth and now has careless sexual relationships with women. When he accidentally gets a girl… read analysis of Hal Winters
A thirty-year-old bartender who lives above the local saloon where he works. Ed is courting Belle Carpenter, a young girl who is also casually dating George Willard in attempts to make Ed jealous. Though… read analysis of Ed Hanby
The unnamed speaker of the stories in Winesburg, Ohio. The narrator does not directly appear in any of the stories but is implied to be a townsperson living amongst the characters in the novel… read analysis of The Narrator
A vehicle merchant in Winesburg who is a friend of Jesse Bentley. Jesse sends his daughter Louise to live with Albert and his children John, Mary, and Harriet so that she can… read analysis of Albert Hardy
Daughter of Albert Hardy with whom Louise Bentley is sent to live as a teenager. She and her sister Mary resent, ostracize, and mock Louise for her intelligence. Their cruelty drives Louise to pursue their brother John Hardy, who eventually becomes Louise’s husband.
Daughter of Albert Hardy with whom Louise Bentley is sent to live as a teenager.
Tandy Hard’s neglectful father. A devout atheist who argues against the existence of God with his neighbors in Winesburg.
A drunk man who wanders into town, befriends the atheist Tom Hard, and delivers a prophecy to Tom’s young daughter Tandy. The stranger is the one who gives the little girl her name and encourages her to be strong, brave, and open to love.
The owner and editor of the local Winesburg Eagle newspaper and George Willard’s boss. Will frequents a local saloon in the afternoons and is often drunk.
A teenage girl with whom George Willard has his first sexual experience.
The former lover of Alice Hindman who abandons her for a new life in Chicago.
A “lean, sad-looking woman” who is courted by Joe Welling and looks “ridiculous” alongside the tiny man. She is the daughter of an intimidating, potentially dangerous family with a notorious reputation in town.
The father of Belle Carpenter. He tries to control his daughter, but is increasingly unable to do so as she grows older.