The main characters in the short story “Hall of Small Mammals” by Thomas Pierce are the unnamed narrator and Val. Their interaction is the main focus of the narrative. Other characters include the man and woman behind them in the queue, and the zoo official. Val’s mother is also briefly mentioned in the narrator’s flashbacks, as he reflects on his relationship with her.
The story is structured around the relationship between the characters, mainly the relationship between the narrator and Val. At the end, their interactions with the zoo official provide additional glimpses into their personalities.
Val comes across as openly dismissive of the narrator to the point of being rude. He is not interested in him, does not like him, and resents his role as his mother’s boyfriend, as shown by his screenplay, where he casts the narrator into the role of the villain who holds his mother captive. Despite his young age, Val looks down on the narrator. The interactions between Val and the narrator with the zoo official further highlight the differences between them.
You can read a more detailed analysis of the narrator and Val in the following pages.