Mary Shrike's name suggests an impaled virgin, and this is the role which she plays with her husband, although she is also a person who herself impales others. She behaves like a willful little girl, enjoying her own suffering and her memories of her mother's suffering. She pretends kindness towards Miss Lonelyhearts, and she makes gestures of independence from her husband, but those pretenses hide her subtle and cunning attempts to torment both men. Her sexual frigidity and her feverish girlishness make her a suitable object for Miss Lonelyhearts' desires, for he needs an impersonal but potentially violent relationship to become sexually aroused, and he also enjoys being humiliated and rejected. Mary is a good companion for the sadistic Shrike and an effective tormentor for the masochistic Miss Lonelyhearts.