Goodnight Mr. Tom Character Summary
Length: 1514 words (4.3 double-spaced pages)
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1. Mr. Tom
Mr. Tom is an elderly gentleman who lives in the country of England. He is quiet and keeps to himself. Throughout the novel Mr. Tom changes and becomes a new person. With the outbreak of war he is responsible for the care of a young evacuee, Will. He and Tom quickly grow to care for each other. Will is given into Tom's care with only the clothes on his back. Tom talks to Mrs. Henley, a local neighbor, and asks her if she would be kind enough to knit Will a jersey. She replied, "You ent gotta clothe em" but Mr. Tom was persistent and was able to get Will a new, thick jersey made (18). Tom takes real good care of William and does his best to look after the young child. While Will is around him, Mr. Tom isn't so deeply depressed about his wife and son, who have both departed. He is more social with the rest of the town and has a more happy expression. When the young evacuee is sent back home Tom worries, when he goes to check on him he finds him in startling health. He even breaks the law to get his frail body back into the country side with him. Mr. Tom is soon Will's adopted father, nearing the end of the novel Will notices something about Tom. "[He] noticed how old and vulnerable Tom looked" (317).
2. Will Beech
Will is a young child who is ripped out of his home and put in the care of Mr. Tom. Just as Mr. Tom changed throughout the story, so does Will.
When he arrives at the small cottage he is terrified of Mr. Tom, all of his life he has been beaten and he feared that was common. Mr. Tom first noticed a "large multicolored bruise on the shin and a swollen red sore beside" (5). Will can't say what he thinks or even answer a person without the fear that his is going to get a strike. When he first gets friends he is worried that he shouldn't have them and that they may be evil. Will didn't even know how to act around his first friend, Zach. He soon took over some of the traits of this friend; he becomes more outgoing, energetic, and ambitious. Will is really starting to come out of his shell and have his own opinions but then his mom calls for him to come back home. He goes home and he tries to show his mom all the good that Mr. Tom has done for him but she just claims that he has made him a disobedient child. She soon drives him down back into hopelessness. He is left to care for himself and his baby sister but they are both locked under the stairs. When Mr. Tom comes to his rescue and the warden calls him Willie, the young, battered child very sternly states that he is not Willie. He is Will (216). His mother was the only person to call him Willie, he felt that it made him sound inferior and he didn't want people to be looking down on him. His is badly shaken and can hardly walk by the time that he is back in Little Weirwold with Tom. His best friend is excited to see him and once he is well enough they are soon spending all their time together. His friend gets word that his father has been badly injured in the war and is leaving the small town to go visit his dad. Over this night there are several bombings on London. Zach and Will never see each other again. Will is mourning and can hardly function, everything he does makes him think of Zach. He soon starts behaving how he did around Zach; he did stuff that he would have never done earlier. He even took Zach's bike to learn to ride it.
"It was just that the Zach part of himself, the outgoing, cheeky part of himself, had been buried inside him, and it was his friendship with Zach that had brought those qualities to the surface." (307)
He now realizes that he can go on living without Zach, but he will never forget him. Mr. Tom takes legal responsibility of Will by adopting him. Will quickly starts seeing him as his father.
Dogs are considered loyal companions to people. It is dogs like Sammy who make people feel so strongly about that. Sammy stays compassionate and caring throughout the entire book, he doesn't change his behavior at all. The canine, a "small black-and-white collie" (9) belongs to Mr. Tom. When Sammy is first introduced he startles Will, he is even being threatened to be hit with a thick branch. Sammy doesn't get mad about any of this. He is still there to sit with Will around the fire and run around with him. Him and Will suddenly become friends and can be found playing around all the time. When Mr. Tom goes to find Will in London Sammy comes along. Sammy smells Will through a door and barks frantically, a warden tells him that there is nothing in there but Mr. Tom quickly responds to tell the warden "it ent like him to fuss over nothin'!" (211). They finally decided to break down the door and thanks to Sammy's nose and recognition of his friend they find him with no trouble at all. Sammy is obedient sitting outside the hospital while Mr. Tom is in there with Will. They all return home and Sammy once again enjoys Will's company.
4. Zach Wrench
Zach is always a very outgoing person right through the book. He is an outgoing, very independent, ostentatious person. Zach was Will's first friend. When Zach and Will meet, Will is very shy and has trouble talking to this stranger. Zach was very different, as soon as he meets someone he must become quick friends with them. This is how it has always been with him because he was constantly traveling with his family before he was sent to the countryside (73). Will and Zach go on all sorts of adventures together, they go with some of their other friends that are around the area. At one point they are doing a play. A lot of them want to play acting roles but Will doesn't. When some people leave Will takes over their role and Zach is stunned with his performance. Zach has always been in entertainment, just as his family has. In their Christmas play Zach kept begging Miss Thorne to put a tap routine in because that is something he had often done his past shows (150). Will gets word that his dad is badly injured in an air raid and goes back to visit him, worried that this may be the last time that he ever gets to see his father. Over the night that he is at London the city is bombarded with bombs and he isn't as lucky as some may be.
5. Mrs. Beech
Will's mother is mad to begin with and even more mad by the end. Her character remains virtually the same. When Mrs. Beech sends will off to live with Mr. Tom she includes in the bag of his belongings a belt. This belt's sole purpose is to give a whipping to the young child for things that are not bad at all. She even believes that young boys are sin (23). She had him sown into his clothes. Will writes a letter to his mother but she never even answers him. After a while a letter is sent to Mr. Tom but this letter just states that she isn't able to pay the payment at this time but she will get it to him. She says nothing to Will. She again writes a letter but this one says she is ill and she wants Will back by her side. When Will arrives in London she doesn't even recognize him. When he shows her the gifts that have been given to her she states that she doesn't want sympathy gifts and when Will shows her the drawing that he drew her she was furious with him, claiming that he must have stolen it (187). Will gets home to find that Mrs. Beech has had another child, a baby girl, the child had been neglected and has been abused just as Will has. Mrs. Beech locks the two young children under the stairs and leaves to a distant place, leaving them to die. Next Will hears of his mother is very disturbed is that she has killed herself (280).