The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

At the end of The Killing Ground, Settle suggests that there are repetitions of character-types throughout history. In that human motivations are certainly limited in number, though unlimited in particular combinations, this point seems logical. One strain which she sees throughout history is that of rebellion against the status quo. In Prisons, Jonathan Church left his home rather than submit to his father, then died rather than submit to Cromwell and his henchmen. In The Killing Ground, Jake Catlett struck out at Johnny McKarkle because Johnny represented rule by wealth and social position. At the end of The Killing Ground, Settle includes among these restless spirits Hannah Bridewell of O Beulah Land, the Provincial captain Jonathan Lacey, troubled Johnny Catlett of Know Nothing, the Italian scapegoat Carlo Michele and intelligent Eddie Pagano from The Scapegoat, and idealistic Lily from the same book. At the end of The Killing Ground, Hannah McKarkle realizes that she is like those characters in her independent spirit and in her need for freedom. Throughout the novels, such characters are contrasted with other types—the unprincipled, such as Cromwell and Charlie Bland; the cruel, such as Lewis Catlett and Captain Daniel Chester Neill; the pampered and petty, such as Sally Lacey in O Beulah Land, Sally Lacey in Know Nothing, and the clubwomen in the final novel; and the...

(The entire section is 467 words.)