Edith Howland, the protagonist. As the novel opens, Edith moves with her husband, Brett, and their ten-year-old son, Cliffie, from New York City to Brunswick Corner, Pennsylvania. She and Brett open the Brunswick Corner Bugle, a local newspaper that fails shortly afterward. After Cliffie is grown, but while he is still living at home, Brett divorces Edith to marry Carol Junkin, his secretary. Edith and her friend Gert Johnson revive the Bugle. Edith also writes left-wing articles and fantasy short stories. Edith takes up sculpture and continues to write in her diary, which contains a blend of fact and fantasy (especially about Cliffie). As the novel progresses, Edith becomes increasingly obsessed with politics, especially U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam, as she descends into madness.
Brett Howland, Edith’s husband. Also a journalist, he works for the Trenton Standard. He is portrayed as a typical middle-class father who loves his wife and son, but he is incapable of dealing with Cliffie’s emotional immaturity, which occasionally borders on psychosis. Brett eventually falls in love with his secretary, Carol, divorces Edith, marries Carol, and moves back to New York, where he begins a new family. He all but despises his son and is unable to deal effectively with his invalid Uncle George, whom he leaves under Edith’s care after the divorce.
Cliffie Howland, Edith and Brett’s emotionally disturbed son. He is at...
(The entire section is 639 words.)