The Characters (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Taylor Greer, the main character, enlists the warm wishes of the reader immediately through her open, honest narration. She quickly lets the reader into her middle-American background. With her rural Kentucky regionalisms and dialect, she is open and sincere. She has a good sense of humor and can laugh at herself as well as at others and at the comedy of human life. As both the narrator and the main character, she carries the story of growing into responsibility and love. She learns her own ignorance and political naïveté, and while her goodheartedness and compassion for others cannot protect her from pain, they reinforce her moral fiber, which gives her the courage to do right. She did not seek the responsibility of a child, but she accepts what fate seems to throw in her path.
Turtle, the child, is seen gradually to emerge from the cocoon of silence and withdrawal with which she surrounds herself, presumably as a result of the abuse she has suffered. She is the catalyst for Taylor’s discovery of responsibility, commitment, and love.
Lou Ann Ruiz is at first only Taylor’s housemate, but gradually the two develop a relationship that is strong, supportive, and mutually beneficial. Lou Ann constantly belittles herself—about her appearance, her capabilities, and her potential. Yet despite desertion by her husband, she slowly gains some self-confidence and is able to take a job in a salsa factory. Obsessed with the safety of her baby,...
(The entire section is 539 words.)
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Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Taylor Greer, the protagonist and narrator. Born and reared in rural Pittman, Kentucky, she vows not to get pregnant and live the rest of her life in Pittman. After graduating from high school and working for five years in a hospital lab, she buys an old Volkswagen and drives west. She acquires an abandoned Native American child, whom she names Turtle, in Oklahoma. Taylor and Turtle end up in Tucson, Arizona, where Taylor struggles to rear a child by herself and earn a living. She becomes involved in the sanctuary movement for Central American refugees. Tough-minded and resilient, Taylor meets these challenges with humor, optimism, and courage.
Turtle Greer, Taylor’s adopted Native American daughter. When Taylor leaves Kentucky to drive west, a young Native American woman leaves the two-year-old Turtle in Taylor’s car. Turtle has been severely abused and does not begin to speak until six months after her arrival in Tucson. Taylor knows nothing about Turtle’s parents or her background.
Lou Ann Ruiz
Lou Ann Ruiz (née Logan), who also is originally from Kentucky. She lives in Tucson with her infant son Dwayne Ray. After her husband, Angel Ruiz, leaves her, she advertises for a roommate, and Taylor and Turtle move in with her. Lou Ann is more traditionally domestic—and more pessimistic—than Taylor, but she provides Taylor with friendship and support, and...
(The entire section is 541 words.)