Eddie - Eddie is an 83-year-old maintenance man, who has dedicated his life to working at Ruby Pier. At the start of the story, we do not know much about Eddie, except for his age and occupation; we learn the most about Eddie when he takes his journey through heaven.
As Eddie meets all five people in heaven, we the readers, as well as Eddie, gain much insight to his life and how it affected others. Eddie was very depressed and full of regret during his life on earth. As a child, Eddie’s ambitions were to attend school and become an engineer; he wanted nothing to do with Ruby Pier or maintenance work.
After Eddie returned, injured from the war, his entire life changed. His volatile relationship with his father took a turn for the worst when they stopped speaking; he also became very depressed and lost all ambition to attend school.
Eddie resented his father for treating him so violently, neglecting him, and for not speaking to him after he returned from the war. Eddie also hated how his father would never praise Eddie unless he fixed something manually. Even after his father’s death, Eddie was still very angry with him, because he felt it was his responsibility to take over his job at the pier. Eddie’s mother also became unstable, causing Eddie to move back into her apartment building to care for her. Eddie was full of resent, regret and despair for the rest of his life for being trapped at the pier.
As Eddie meets the five people in heaven the events of his life unfold and Eddie learns more about his life which all comes together as the underlying message of the book. Eddie’s journey teaches him that we are all connected to another so that one’s actions are destined to have an impact or influence on someone else’s. Eddie also learned how easy it was to never express appreciation or thanks to those he loved. We saw that Eddie’s stubborn personality kept a distance between him and his father, and he also never seemed to show Marguerite appreciation for always celebrating his birthday. Only after she was gone, does Eddie realize how much he missed taffy on his birthday.
It is not until Eddie meets Tala, that he learns where his place in life lied. She tells Eddie that he was more than just a maintenance man checking the amusements; Eddie was significant for all of the people at the park and responsible for keeping them safe. It was his daily, mundane job that had prevented many accidents and kept the rides safe. Through meeting the five people in heaven, Eddie sees an appreciation of this things he had done while living on earth; he was also able to achieve integrity to replace the regret that he faced throughout his life.
Blue Man - The Blue Man is the first person Eddie meets in heaven. Eddie did not know the Blue Man when he was a child but his actions were responsible for the Blue Man’s death.
When Eddie was a child, he and Joe were playing ball outside. The ball bounced into the street and Eddie ran after it. The Blue Man, who was practicing his driving, almost hit Eddie but veered away just in time. Since the Blue Man was already nervous to be driving, his close encounter with Eddie shook him up even more. He began swerving on the road and having a sort of anxiety attack. He pulled over to regain his composure and ended up hitting a truck, which brought him to his death.
The Blue Man teaches Eddie his first lesson, which is that there are no random acts in life; all actions are intertwined in some way to affect the life of someone else. If Eddie had never chased his ball into the street, the Blue Man may have never died. However, since the Blue Man steered the car clear of hitting Eddie, one of the benefits of the Blue Man’s death was the Eddie was able to live.
The Captain - The Captain is the second person Eddie meets in heaven and is also his former captain in World War II. While they were at war, the Captain made a promise to Eddie and his other soldiers that he was not leaving anyone behind. The Captain suffered through the prisoner of war camp and even the escape with his men.
When Eddie ran into the burning camp, the Captain shot him in the leg so that they could rescue him from the fire and escape. During their escape, Eddie was unconscious in the vehicle. The men came to a suspicious piece of land and the Captain volunteered to get out of the vehicle to inspect it for his men, before they drove over the land. While securing the land, the Captain stepped on an active land mine that killed him. The other soldiers in the vehicle, including Eddie made it to safety. Eddie was not aware how the Captain had died or why he shot him in the leg.
The Captain tells Eddie that, although he shot him in the leg, he kept his promise by not leaving him behind. The Captain even sacrificed his life so that the other soldiers were able to live. Had he not been willing to survey the land himself, all four men would have driven over the land mine and been killed. Eddie also realizes that when one loses something (his healthy leg), they often gain something else (his life).