Ewbank, the title character, a self-made owner of a tent-erecting business. He is a hardworking, bustling Northerner, very much the boss, with a sharp tongue and a fondness for his tipple. He is affectionate with his wife and daughter (who is marrying “above” the family) but rather lost with his son. Ewbank is more at home with his sleeves rolled up among his all-male “family” of workmen, whose language he speaks. The high point of the wedding celebrations (the wedding itself takes place offstage) comes when he shares cake and a toast with the men. He treats Glendenning like a son, buying him chocolate when he cries. He provides the marquee, the erection and the dismantling of which constitute the action of the play, for his daughter’s wedding reception, which is held at his house. His separate worlds of home and work thus come into collision, bringing him to reflect briefly on the ephemeral, or “nomadic,” quality of his life as an erector of tents.
Paul, Ewbank’s university-educated son, well-intentioned and kindly but restless and overly thoughtful, with little sense of self-worth and less of direction, which gives him the appearance of an ineffectual lounger. Paul is the playwright’s surrogate in the play: a young man out of tune with his family because he has been educated out of his class. In this play, in which work is the focus of dramatic attention and the index of value, it is...
(The entire section is 560 words.)