An old man (unnamed) who keeps pigeons, worries about his granddaughter, Alice. He has seen his other granddaughters leave home, marry and grow up, and he is both possessive of Alice and jealous of Steven, her boyfriend. (He disapproves of Steven's appearance and his father's job.) The old man argues with Alice about her behaviour, and complains to his daughter, Alice's mother (Lucy).
At the start of the story the old man shuts up his favourite pigeon, rather than let it fly. But when Steven, the boyfriend, makes him a present of a new pigeon, he is more able to accept what is going to happen, and he lets his favourite go. The ending of the story is ambiguous (it has more than one possible meaning): Alice has tears on her face, as she stares at her grandfather. But we do not know if they are for him, for Steven, for herself or for some other cause. And we do not know if they are tears of joy or sadness or some other feelings.
This is a very short story, so it does not have fully developed characters as we might meet in a novel. The old man is the central character in the story and has no name. We know that he is Alice's grandfather, and that he feels possessive towards her. We know also that he keeps pigeons. The story is told largely from his viewpoint and whatever it means, it is certainly in some way about his learning or accepting things about Alice.
Alice is the old man's granddaughter. She is a young woman but he still sees her as a child - or would like to do so. She looks young and sometimes acts in a carefree way, but mostly she has a serious and grown up wish to marry her boyfriend, and settle into a domestic routine.
Lucy is the old man's daughter and Alice's mother. She is depicted as a grown up in her appearance ("square-fronted"), her actions (she looks after her father) and the way in which her father thinks of her (“that woman”). Her husband is absent (perhaps she is a widow or divorcee, but there is no evidence to...