The little girl is the main character of the story, while the other characters are in the background. The slippers she wore can somewhat guess the girl's age, because she wore her mother's slippers that were too big for her, so we can conclude that she was not more than nine or ten years old.
She belonged to an extremely poor family, which is clear from the description of her house - it was so cold at home because they had nothing but a roof above and the wind was whistling through it, even though the biggest cracks were covered with straw and rags. Moreover, her father did not like her, otherwise, he would not have sent her to sell matches in the winter when she did not have enough warm clothes.
She was so obedient that she did not oppose her father and preferred to suffer rather than return home to face her father's rudeness. He didn't care for her and he knew how to treat her badly. She was deprived of all the love and affection she should have received from her father. She longed for the love she once received from her grandmother who is now dead.
All these dreams came to life in the form of visions when she froze. Her hallucinations when she lit a match showed her desires. At first, she saw herself sitting in front of a large furnace because she needed heat then. Then she saw the sumptuous food laid out on the table, which showed her need for food.
In her third vision, she saw a beautiful Christmas tree depicting her desire to celebrate. In her last vision, she saw her grandmother and prayed that he would take her to heaven. Her last wish came true, and a smile remained on her face when she met and talked to her grandmother in her imagination.
Dead Grandma is the only person who has ever shown love to a girl. Grandma appears in the vision as bright and beautiful. He hugs the girl and takes her to heaven, where she will be placed in warmth and joy. In this story, the grandmother appears as the only bright spot in the girl's life and the only positive person, while the girl is surrounded by the cruelty of adults who ignore her existence and let her die.
"Grandmother had never been so grand and beautiful."
Although the girl's father does not appear in the scenes of the story, his presence hovers over her because she knows that he will beat her if she returns home without money from the sale of matches. Immeasurably bad character, knowing that the girl does not have warm clothes and that it is winter outside, lets the child go to the street under the threat of beatings if he fails to sell all the matches.
"She was getting colder and colder, but did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches, nor earned a single cent, and her father would surely beat her."
The boy thief
Narrator explains that the girl was left barefoot because the boy stole one of her slippers when she lost them in the snow. The boy cruelly keeps her to himself, claiming that one day he will use the slipper as a cradle for his child. In the same situation as the girl and the boy, he is forced to react at a given moment to "seize the opportunity". Thinking about the future, this child is also forced to support himself on the street, only unlike the girl, the boy turns to cruelty and chooses another direction in life - fighting, stealing.
"...and a boy had run off with the other, saying he could use it very well as a cradle some day when he had children of his own."