Child narrator ("Araby")
The child narrator in "Araby" develops his first crush on a neighbor girl known only as Mangan's sister. He obsesses about her and is consumed with love for her, so when she asks if he is going to the Araby bazaar, he promises to bring her a gift. He gets to the bazaar late and finds nothing to buy for her, which leads him to see his attempts to impress Mangan's sister as futile and hopeless.
Eveline lives a difficult life with an abusive father and an unsatisfying job. She makes plans to leave Dublin with her boyfriend, Frank, who promises to marry her when they get to South America, but she is unable to carry through with the plan and leave everything she knows behind.
Little Chandler meets with his old friend Gallaher, a London journalist, and feels jealous of Gallaher's globe-trotting success. Chandler dreams of living a similar life as a poet, which causes him to resent his wife and son briefly before coming to his senses.
In "The Boarding House," Mrs. Mooney is the owner of the titular establishment. She is known as a firm but fair landlady, but she has also built her reputation and her livelihood through her own intelligence and determination after leaving her alcoholic husband. When her daughter has an affair with a tenant, Mrs. Mooney reveals her tenacious nature as she convinces her daughter's lover to do the socially correct thing and marry her daughter. She is not a woman who accepts refusal and has become accustomed to having control.
Maria lives a simple but reasonably happy life, although she is unmarried and works in a laundry. She cares deeply for the boys she nursed when they were young, and remains close with them and their families. At a Hallow Eve party hosted by one of her former charges, she draws a lump of clay from the gift table in a party game, which no one tells her is an omen of death.
In "Grace," Tom Kernan is a tea merchant whose business and personal life are suffering from his descent into alcoholism. He hits rock bottom when he crashes down some stairs in a pub and injures himself. His friends and wife intervene with a plan to introduce him to religion to stop his drinking. Mr. Kernan was raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism when he married, but has never been particularly religious. His willingness to attend church shows how a spiritual awakening can happen to anyone.
In "The Dead," Gabriel Conroy attends his aunts' Christmas party with his wife, which is an eventful evening for him. The stress of a confrontation with another guest about his own national pride, and learning about his wife's first love who died young, sends him into a crisis that causes him to ponder the meaning of life and death.