Flo Owens: The single mother of Madge and Millie, Flo wants her daughters to enjoy a happiness and success in love and marriage that she herself never had, yet she has very traditional and conservative views about what and who will be able to provide that happiness.
Madge Owens: The older of Flo’s two daughters, Madge is considered by everyone to be the prettiest girl in town and is a model of politeness and class. She works at the local “dime store” and is the sweetheart of Alan Seymour, the most successful and promising young man in town. Yet deep down she wonders whether her supposedly perfect life is what she actually wants and yearns for an identity beyond the beauty for which she is known.
Millie Owens: Madge’s younger sister and, on the surface, at least, her polar opposite. Millie is bookish, a bit crass, and a tomboy, and she distinguishes herself from her older sister by consciously eschewing what she perceives as superficial prettiness. But will Hal’s arrival inspire Millie to think differently about love and beauty?
Rosemary Sydney: A school teacher who is defiantly independent and unmarried, Rosemary rents a room in Flo’s house. She proudly calls herself an “old maid” and maintains a casual dating relationship with Howard Bevans.
Mrs. Helen Potts: Eloped with her young flame, only to have her mother annul her marriage the very next day. She now takes care of her mom, who has grown elderly and dominates her life. To cope with her loneliness, she often takes in boarders, especially wandering, virile, young men, like Hal.
Mrs. Potts’ Mother: We never see the older Mrs. Potts, but her voice from off stage, constantly interrupting her daughter’s conversation, suggests her crotchety nature—which means that no nursing home will taker her in, leaving the task of caring for her to her daughter.
Hal Carter: The latest in a series of handsome young men Mrs. Potts has taken in to work odd jobs, Hal spends the day cleaning her garden in exchange for home-cooked meals. He was a football star in high school and college, yet remains poorly educated. He projects a roughness developed by having a father with a drinking problem who died in jail and a mother who wants nothing to do with him. Inside he’s lonely and unsure of himself, ashamed of the unsophisticated upbringing that will always tag him as an outsider. His many wild stories involving women don’t help his longing for true love and normalcy.
Alan Seymour: Gentle and polite, Alan is Madge Owens’ boyfriend and comes from the richest and most prestigious family in town. He is about to go away for his final year in college, where he was a fraternity brother of Hal.
Howard Bevans: A businessman from a nearby town who stops in to see Rosemary, whom he dates casually. Mr. Bevans enjoys relaxing with some nice whisky and fun company.
Irma Kronkite: A local school teacher and friend of Rosemary.
Christine Schoenwalder: The high school’s new “feminine hygiene” teacher.
Bomber: The paperboy, constantly making fun of Millie and asking Madge for a date.