T. Lawrence (Larry) Shannon
T. Lawrence (Larry) Shannon, a former Episcopal priest, now a tour guide. The handsome thirty-five-year-old American is suffering through the opening stages of a nervous breakdown. When he arrives at Maxine’s Costa Verde Hotel, he has hit bottom; in a relatively brief period, he has descended from being the promising young rector of an affluent Virginia congregation to conducting tours for an international travel agency to, finally, leading a group of Baptist schoolteachers around Mexico under the aegis of a seedy travel bureau. Although part of Larry’s problem clearly involves alcohol, a weakness continually implied by the other characters and by Larry himself, he is chiefly troubled by his “Spook,” a phantasm created by his own anxieties. Despite his irresponsibility, weakness, and occasional cruelty, Larry retains strong personal appeal; part of his fascination lies in his sexual attractiveness, but even more engaging is his aura of “fallenness,” of lost innocence. It becomes increasingly clear, as the plot unfolds, that Larry is tormented by his search for God, even though, as Hannah points out, he relishes that torment. In his treatment of Hannah and her grandfather, even in his rough affection toward Maxine, Larry evinces true compassion. His call—at least as it is manifested in his sympathy for other troubled people—has not diminished. Larry’s essence is contradiction: His kindness is shot through with cruelty, his longing for God is tainted by sensuality, and his need to escape dependency is thwarted by moral inertia.
Maxine Faulk, the owner of the Costa Verde Hotel, recently widowed. Sensual, direct, and practical, Maxine is at once powerfully drawn...
(The entire section is 722 words.)