Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Ruth, a former photographer’s model in her early thirties, now married to Teddy and the mother of their sons. On the occasion of her and Teddy’s visit to his family home in London, she is a force in the lives of Teddy’s father, uncle, and two brothers. As an outsider, she disrupts the comfortable routine of their lives. At the end, she does not leave for the United States with her husband; she admonishes him, at his departure, not to become a stranger. At first, experiencing the family’s hostility toward her, she slowly and subtly engages each of the men in a battle of the sexes, in which she emerges as the victor. Her control over Max is emotional; over Lenny, psychological; and over Joey, sexual. Her life with Teddy is sterile. Her psychological mobility is the secret of her eventual dominance over the immobility of the males.
Max, the father of Teddy, Lenny, and Joey, and the domineering, seventy-year-old patriarch of the family. His sons and his brother, Sam, live with him in a shabby ancestral home in London. He constantly threatens his sons and brother, and even Ruth when she arrives. Underneath the animal imagery of his virile language lie the buried uncertainties of his past. These emerge in the course of the play and involve possible violations of his now-deceased wife, Jessie, in the back of Max’s taxicab. His conflicts are with his sons as well, even as he insists on a “cuddle” with one of them. His boasts about his secure family life prove to be idealistic. Illusions about his...
(The entire section is 637 words.)
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