Character Analysis Johnny Nolan


Johnny is Francie's father. Johnny is weak, unable to survive in the crushing poverty in which the family lives. He is a dreamer, an impractical romantic, who lacks the abilities or incentive to make his dreams come true. When faced with reality, such as the birth of his two children and the need to support them, Johnny escapes into alcohol. Johnny loves his wife and his children, but he is unable to function as the husband and father they deserve. Like his brothers, Johnny earns his living as a singing waiter. The work is inconsistent, but it allows Johnny to drink, and it provides the instant applause he desires. The tips that he earns are used to fuel his drinking. Johnny depends on his wife, Katie, to support the family, but her strength enables her husband to continue drinking. Johnny knows that his wife can always be depended upon to provide for the family when he fails to do so. Johnny is unable to separate the romantic song lyrics that he sings from real life. After a disastrous fishing excursion, Johnny is disappointed and confused because the fishing trip did not turn out like the songs he sings. He is not a complete failure at life, though. Johnny does understand that an education is the way for his children to escape from the family's poverty. He also tries to provide Francie with extra love to make up for her mother's lack of attention. Johnny is charming and handsome, but he has no depth of character. When he is fired from the waiter's union, he dies. Johnny is a static character, who neither grows nor changes during the novel.

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