The most important character in Ernest Hemingway’s story “The Killers” is Nick Adams. Although he is not explicitly the main character, the second part of the story (after Al and Max leave the diner) follows him, and the story ends with his decision to leave town. This suggests that the story’s deeper meaning is related to how Nick Adams is affected by the events. At the beginning, he is an honest, inexperienced young man; however, by the end of the story, he is confronted with the existence of evil in the world and with the inevitability of death.

Al and Max, the killers, are secondary characters. Although the story partly focuses on them, they are not necessarily complex characters – they come into the diner, eat, laugh at everybody’s expense, and leave without accomplishing their mission – killing Ole Andreson.

George, Sam, and Ole Andreson are also secondary characters. Mrs Bell, the caretaker at Hirsch’s rooming house and a few anonymous customers at Henry’s also appear in the story.

You can find their characterisation in what follows.