World’s End Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Author: Thomas Coraghessan Boyle

First published: 1987

Genre: Novel

Locale: Upper Hudson Valley of New York; Pieterskill, New York, and environs (fictional)

Plot: Historical

Time: 1660s-80s and 1920s-60s

Harmanus Van Brunt, seventeenth-century son of a fisherman from the Netherlands and ancestor of Walter Van Brunt. He comes to America with his family in 1663 to be a tenant farmer at Nysen's Roost, New York, indentured for life to the Van Wart family. He becomes plagued with insatiable hunger and dies falling from a cliff. He shares a name with his grandson.

Jeremias Van Brunt, son of Harmanus, who at thirteen loses a leg after an unfortunate encounter with a snapping turtle. He squats on the tenant farm after his mother and brother die in a house fire. Big-boned and tall for his age, as an adult he becomes contemptuous of—but ultimately surrenders to—authority.

Staats van der Meulen, a seventeenth-century Dutch tenant farmer. Along with his wife, Meintje, the kindly, balding, big-nosed Staats takes in the orphaned Jeremias Van Brunt.

Katrinchee Van Brunt, green-eyed daughter of Harmanus, who at age fifteen runs off with Van Brunt family friend Mohonk.

Mohonk (Mohewoneck), the son of Sachoes, chief of the Kitchawank tribe, and his wife Wahwahtaysee. The Kitchawanks were cheated out of their land by the Van Warts.

Jeremy Mohonk (Squagganeek), green-eyed son of Katrinchee Van Brunt and Mohonk, who is executed for rebellion. He is the first of three Jeremy Mohonks mentioned in the novel.

Jan Pieterse, wealthy owner of a trading post in seventeenth-century New York. The man for whom Pieterskill is eventually named, he secretly sells liquor to the American Indians.

Stephanus Oloffe Rombout Van Wart, arrogant son and heir of Oloffe Stephanus Van Wart, seventeenth-century Dutch patroon of Van Wartwyck, a New York manor.

Joost Cats, the local schout, or sheriff, in seventeenth-century New York, responsible for collecting rents from tenant farmers for the Van Wart family. Black-eyed and ferret-like with a pointed beard, he wears a plumed hat and carries a sword as badges of his office.

Neeltje Cats, daughter of Joost, who falls in love with and marries peg-legged Jeremias Van Brunt.

Wouter Van Brunt, son of Jeremias Van Brunt and Neeltje Cats Van Brunt. Shares a name with his paternal uncle.

Hackaliah Crane, a local scholar and schoolteacher.

Cadwallader Crane, Hackaliah's son, who is executed alongside Jeremy Mohonk (Squagganeek) for rebellion.

Wolf Nysen, a large, bearded Swede. A semilegendary figure, Wolf built the Van Brunt family's cabin on former American Indian land. He is rumored to have gone insane and slaughtered his own family before fleeing into the forests. He is blamed whenever anything goes wrong or objects go missing.

Truman Van Brunt, the biological father of Walter Van Brunt. Born circa 1918, handsome Truman was a former high school athlete, a daredevil, and a decorated veteran of World War II. After discharge, he joined the Communist Party, took night courses at City College, married, and fathered Walter Van Brunt, whom he deserted after betraying his friends.

Christina Alving Van Brunt, Truman's wife. The daughter of an architect of Swedish descent, she starves herself to death after Truman deserts her and their son.

Walter Truman Van Brunt, son of Truman and Christina, born in 1946. After his father deserts the family and his mother dies, Hesh and Lola Solovay adopt and raise Walter. In his early twenties, Walter, a university graduate and lathe operator at Depeyster Manufacturing, loses first one leg and then the other in motorcycle accidents. Walter leaves his wife, Jessica, for the affections of fickle Mardi Van Wart. Like his seventeenth-century ancestors Jeremias and Wouter Van Brunt, and his own father Truman, Walter betrays his friends and colleagues.

Jessica Conklin Wing Van Brunt, Walter's young, blond wife, who wears My Sin perfume and constantly chews gum. She wants to become a marine biologist. After Walter leaves she lives with Tom Crane.

Hesh Solovay, Walter's adoptive father, who runs a glazier's shop. The former best friend of Truman Van Brunt, Hesh is large man whose gruff exterior hides a gentle nature.

Lola Solovay, Walter's adoptive mother, of Moldavian heritage. A high school classmate of Walter's mother, Christina, Lola is unable to have children of her own.

Jeremey Mohonk, a Kitchawank Indian living on the Shawangunk Reservation, the second of three Jeremy Mohonks mentioned in the novel. He is married to Mildred Tantaquidgeon and is the father of Jeremy Mohonk Jr. He is stabbed by Mildred's brother, Horace.

Jeremy Mohonk Jr., green-eyed son of Jeremy and Mildred, the third of the three Jeremy Mohonks mentioned in the novel. Born in 1909, he is a contemporary of Depeyster Van Wart and the last of the Kitchawanks. He is sent to Sing Sing for assaulting Rombout Van Wart at Nysen's Roost. He has an affair with Joanna Van Wart and impregnates her as an act of vengeance against her family.

Rambout Van Wart, descendant of Oloffe and Stephanus Van Wart, eleventh owner of Van Wart Manor, who lost a fortune in the 1929 stock market crash.

Depeyster “Dipe” Van Wart, son of Rambout Van Wart, born 1918. He inherits Van Wart Manor and owns and operates Depeyster Manufacturing. Depeyster, who befriends Walter Van Brunt, eats dirt in secret. He covets the Crane property and longs for a male heir.

Joanna Van Wart, Depeyster's fine-boned wife, born in 1925. An activist for American Indian causes, she wears no makeup, usually dresses in American Indian garb, and becomes pregnant by Jeremy Mohonk Jr., last of the Kitchawanks.

Mardi Van Wart, the black-haired daughter of Depeyster and Joanna Van Wart. Wild, sensuous, and a graduate of Bard College, she runs around with lowlifes.

Peletiah Crane, descendant of Hackaliah Crane. A land Baron, he was principal of Van Wartville school in the 1920s. Known for wearing a bow tie and straw boater, he is in his late seventies in the 1960s.

Tom Crane, the tall, gangly grandson of Peletiah and friend of Walter Van Brunt. A college dropout, he chooses to live simply in a cabin in the woods, for which he is known as the “saint of the forest.” Tom becomes the lover of Walter's estranged wife, Jessica.

Categories: Characters