A Home at the End of the World
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"A Home at the End of the World" Characters Analysis

By Michael Cunningham

fiction | 342 pages | Published in NaN

Michael Cunningham’s celebrated novel is the story of two boyhood friends: Jonathan, lonely, introspective, and unsure of himself; and Bobby, hip, dark, and inarticulate. In New York after college, Bobby moves in with Jonathan and his roommate, Clare, a veteran of the city's erotic wars. Bobby and Clare fall in love, scuttling the plans of Jonathan, who is gay, to father Clare's child. Then, when Clare and Bobby have a baby, the three move to a small house upstate to raise "their" child together and, with an odd friend, Alice, create a new kind of family. A Home at the End of the World masterfully depicts the charged, fragile relationships of urban life today.


Estimated read time: 6 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Bobby MorrowProtagonist
Jonathan GloverProtagonist
ClareSupporting Character
AliceSupporting Character

Role Identification

In "A Home at the End of the World" by Michael Cunningham, the story revolves around two main protagonists, Bobby Morrow and Jonathan Glover. Bobby and Jonathan are childhood friends who navigate their way through life together, exploring their identities, relationships, and the meaning of home.

Character Descriptions

  1. Bobby Morrow - Bobby is a sensitive and introspective character. He is described as having a boyish charm and a free-spirited nature. He is open-minded, compassionate, and often seeks solace in music and his own thoughts. Bobby's appearance is described as slightly disheveled, with his long hair and casual attire reflecting his laid-back personality.
  2. Jonathan Glover - Jonathan is the more grounded and practical of the two friends. He is described as being physically attractive, with a strong and muscular build. Jonathan's reserved nature often masks his emotional depth and complexity. He is introspective and struggles with his own identity and desires.
  3. Clare - Clare is a supporting character in the story and a love interest for both Bobby and Jonathan. She is described as ethereal and free-spirited, with a sense of mystery surrounding her. Clare's appearance is often described as bohemian, with flowing hair and a carefree style that reflects her artistic nature.
  4. Alice - Alice is another supporting character who plays a significant role in the lives of Bobby and Jonathan. She is described as nurturing, warm, and maternal. Alice's appearance is often described as comforting and gentle, with her soft features and warm smile.

Character Traits

  1. Bobby Morrow - Bobby is empathetic, introspective, and artistic. He has a deep capacity for love and compassion, often putting others' needs before his own. Bobby is also prone to moments of self-doubt and can be indecisive at times.
  2. Jonathan Glover - Jonathan is practical, responsible, and protective. He carries a sense of duty towards those he cares about, often putting their needs before his own. Jonathan's reserved nature can sometimes lead to emotional detachment and a fear of vulnerability.
  3. Clare - Clare is free-spirited, artistic, and enigmatic. She exudes a sense of adventure and curiosity, living life on her own terms. Clare's mysterious nature often leaves others wondering about her true intentions and desires.
  4. Alice - Alice is nurturing, caring, and selfless. She is always there to provide support and guidance to those around her. Alice's gentle nature often serves as a source of comfort for Bobby and Jonathan.

Character Background

  1. Bobby Morrow - Bobby grew up in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1960s. He had a troubled childhood, marked by the loss of his brother and the strained relationship with his parents. Bobby's love for music became an escape and a way for him to express his emotions.
  2. Jonathan Glover - Jonathan grew up in the same suburban neighborhood as Bobby. He had a stable family life, but he often felt like an outsider due to his reserved nature and secret desires. Jonathan's passion for gardening became a way for him to find solace and create his own sense of home.
  3. Clare - Clare's background is less explored in the novel, leaving her character shrouded in mystery. She is introduced as a friend of Bobby's and later becomes involved in a romantic relationship with both Bobby and Jonathan. Clare's transient nature suggests a history of searching for something or someone to anchor her.
  4. Alice - Alice is Jonathan's mother and becomes a motherly figure to Bobby as well. She has experienced her own share of loss and heartache, which has shaped her nurturing and compassionate nature.

Character Arcs

  1. Bobby Morrow - Bobby's character arc revolves around self-discovery and finding his place in the world. He starts as a young boy struggling with his identity and blossoms into a more confident and self-assured individual. Through his relationships with Jonathan, Clare, and Alice, Bobby learns to embrace his true self and find his own version of home.
  2. Jonathan Glover - Jonathan's character arc centers around his journey towards self-acceptance and understanding his own desires. Initially, he suppresses his true feelings out of fear and societal expectations. Throughout the story, Jonathan gradually learns to embrace his sexuality and express his emotions more openly.
  3. Clare - Clare's character arc remains more enigmatic, leaving readers to speculate about her motivations and desires. She serves as a catalyst for Bobby and Jonathan's self-discovery, but her own journey is left largely unresolved.
  4. Alice - Alice's character arc revolves around her role as a caregiver and nurturer. She provides stability and support to both Bobby and Jonathan, helping them navigate their emotions and find their sense of belonging. Alice's own personal growth is subtly hinted at, as she learns to let go and find her own happiness.


  1. Bobby and Jonathan - The friendship between Bobby and Jonathan is at the heart of the story. They share a deep bond that evolves throughout the novel. They support each other through life's challenges, exploring their identities together and providing emotional stability for one another.
  2. Bobby and Clare - Bobby and Clare's relationship is complex and unconventional. They share a deep connection through their shared experiences of loss and yearning. Their romantic relationship challenges traditional notions of love and sexuality.
  3. Jonathan and Clare - Jonathan and Clare's relationship is also unconventional, as they navigate their own desires and boundaries. Jonathan's feelings for Clare create tension and conflict within the friendship between Bobby and Jonathan.
  4. Bobby and Alice - Bobby and Alice's relationship is one of motherly love and nurturing. Alice provides a sense of stability and unconditional support to Bobby, who sees her as a maternal figure.

In "A Home at the End of the World," Michael Cunningham explores the intricacies of relationships, self-discovery, and the meaning of home through the lives of Bobby, Jonathan, Clare, and Alice. The characters' individual traits, backgrounds, and arcs intertwine to create a compelling narrative that challenges societal norms and explores the complexities of human connection.