Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
James Leeds, a speech teacher at a state school for the deaf. A sensitive, caring, and charismatic teacher in his thirties, James finds himself challenged by Sarah Norman, a sarcastic and rebellious maid at the school whom the headmaster has asked James to help in his spare time. Matching her sarcasm with his own wit and with unorthodox methods of instruction, James attracts her to him and is in turn attracted by her beauty and intelligence. Engaging in a battle of wits via sign language, they fall in love and get married, against the warnings of the headmaster. Despite his attempts to understand Sarah and her point of view, James insists on trying to make her over, pressuring her to learn to read lips and to speak rather than remain entirely dependent on sign language. When a fellow student, Orin Dennis, engages in a battle with James and tries to recruit Sarah into his militant program of reform, she rejects them both, stating that she is her own person. If James is to win her back, he must accept her on her own terms. He learns the damage his attempts to remake her have caused, acknowledges his love and need for her, and attempts a reconciliation.
Sarah Norman, a twenty-six-year-old maid at a state school for the deaf. Deaf since birth, Sarah is estranged from her mother and rebellious against the world. She is highly intelligent but uses her wits only for sarcastic retorts against anyone who tries to intrude into her privacy. Physically...
(The entire section is 621 words.)
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