In Our Time: Characters

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Doctor Adams

Doctor Adams is Nick’s father. In the two stories in which he appears, readers see Nick looking up to his father for guidance on becoming a man. Doctor Adams, the stories reveal, values being in charge and not being squeamish, but the stories also reveal that he is not a perfect man.

Mrs. Adams

Mrs. Adams is Nick’s mother. She appears to suffer from headaches in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.”  In the story in which she appears, Dr. Adams deliberately sabotages her influence over Nick by letting Nick stay with him, rather than going to his mother, who has requested his presence.

Nick Adams

Nick Adams is a recurring American character in the stories. Readers follow Nick from childhood in the Midwestern woods, through World War I, and back to America after the war. The stories that feature Nick center around nature and its connection to manhood.


Bill is Nick’s close friend. As young men, they enjoyed doing manly things, such as hunting, fishing, and drinking together. In both “The End of Something” and “The Three-Day Blow,” it is clear that Bill is influential in persuading Nick to drop Marjorie.

Dick Boulton

Dick Boulton is a half-breed man who comes to cut up logs for Doctor Adams in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.” He antagonizes Dr. Adams by insinuating that Dr. Adams is stealing the logs, revealing that the good Dr. Adams is not as respectable as he pretends to be.

Eddy Boulton

Eddy Boulton is Dick Boulton’s son.


Boyle is the other policeman in Chapter VIII. He worries that he and Drevitts will get in trouble for the deaths of the Hungarians.


Bugs is the black man who accompanies and looks after Ad Francis. When Ad tries to attack Nick, Bugs knocks him out so Nick can leave.

Joe Butler

Joe Butler is the narrator of “My Old Man.” He recalls how he grew up following his father during his career as a jockey. Although Joe looks up to his father, he also must acknowledge that his father is dishonest.


Butler is Joe’s father. When he become too old to jockey anymore, he turns to fixing races. He procures enough money to buy a horse and rides in a race himself. In that race, he suffers a fatal accident.

Sam Cardinella

Sam Cardinella is a character in Chapter XV. Before Sam is hanged, he is told to be brave like a man. Instead, he messes in his pants.

The Kitchen Corporal

The corporal is the narrator in Chapter I. He is in charge of the kitchen as his battery heads to Champagne during the war.


Drevitts is a policeman who shoots two Hungarians committing a burglary in Chapter VIII. He says he shot them because they were “wops,” and he can detect a wop a mile off.

Cornelia Elliot

Cornelia Elliot is the wife, older than her husband, in “Mr. and Mrs. Elliot,” a story about a couple who marry but realize they are incompatible and unable to have a baby.

Hubert Elliot

Hubert Elliot is Cornelia’s husband. He is a poet.

Ad Francis

Ad Francis is one of the characters in “The Battler.” He is a former famous boxer who has hit hard times, supposedly because his wife left him. Nick encounters him camping along the railroad. Ad Francis seems to be mentally unhinged at times.

George Gardner

George Gardner is a friend and fellow jockey of Butler. He deliberately loses a race in order to help Butler make money. He looks after Joe after Butler is killed.

The Young Gentleman

The young gentleman is the husband of Tiny. Although he is solicitous of his wife, he also does not seem to really hear her.


George is the friend who goes skiing with Nick Adams in “Cross-Country Snow.”  Through their conversation in a pub, George reveals that Nick has gotten a woman pregnant and may return to the States.


George is the American woman’s husband in “Cat in the Rain.” He seems oblivious to his wife’s needs and loneliness.

Uncle George

Uncle George is Nick’s uncle. He accompanies Dr. Adams and Nick to the Indian camp  when Dr. Adams goes there to deliver the Indian woman’s baby.

The King

The king appears in “L’Envoi.” He appears to be a Greek king under house arrest after the revolution. His humor is an attempt to mask his fear.

Harold Krebs

Harold Krebs is a World War I soldier who returns home from the war, only to find that he cannot readjust to small town life after all he has seen in the war. He cannot really express to anyone why he cannot seem to fit in anymore. He is the main character in “Soldier’s Home.”

Helen Krebs

Helen is Harold’s kid sister. She treats her brother like a hero.

Mrs. Krebs

Mrs. Krebs is Harold’s mother. She babies Harold, but at the same time she reveals that she is rather ashamed of the way her son seems to do nothing. She believes that religion is the answer to every problem, but she cannot see that her son has lost his faith.


Luis is the bullfighter in Chapter XIII who ignores his fellow matadors and drinks and dances in the streets, despite the fact that he will soon fight.


Luz is a nurse in Italy who becomes involved with her patient in “A Very Short Story.” She pledges to follow the solider to America and marry him after he secures a job. However, she meets an Italian officer and decides she prefers him.


Maera is a bullfighter. In Chapter XIII, he is disgusted by the drunkenness of fellow bullfighter Luis. In Chapter XIV, Maera is killed by a bull.


Marjorie is the girl that Nick is serious about in one of the stories showing Nick as a teen. Although he likes Marjorie an awful lot—and she is willing to do things like fish with him—he breaks up with her, mainly from pressure from Bill. After he breaks up, it is clear that he is not entirely happy with his decision.


Peduzzi is the Italian drunkard who is hired by a tourist couple to take them fishing in “Out of Season.”

The Revolutionist

The revolutionist is a communist fleeing Hungary after revolution there.


Rinaldi is the fellow soldier who is critically wounded at the same time as Nick receives a serious wound in Chapter VI.

Billy Tabeshaw

Billy is a Native American man who comes with the Boultons to cut the logs for Dr. Adams.


Tiny is the wife of the man who hires Peduzzi. She and her husband seems at odds in the story.


Villalta is the bullfighter in Chapter XII. He performs with all the showmanship of a true bullfighter and slays his bull.

The American Wife

The American wife is the main character in “Cat in the Rain.” Her fixation on rescuing a cat in the rain at her hotel reveals that she is lonely and misunderstood by her husband, George.

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