John Conlan's father and mother, whom he has dubbed Bore and Hyper respectively, are more than forty years older than John. His mother is a compulsive cleaner, while his father, a former alcoholic with heart trouble, wants John to join him and John's older brother Ken at the Exchange. The Conlans appear worn out as parents and irritated by John's youthful imagination, and they wish he were grown up and out of the house. John, meanwhile, does his best to justify this irritation. John's ambition to become an actor does not meet with his parents' approval, and his flamboyance contrasts with his parents' conformity.
Lorraine Jensen's mother, a nurse who specializes in the care of dying cancer patients, steals from the families she helps and has a morbid fear of men, probably because her former husband abandoned her several years earlier. Lorraine's insecurities stem from Mrs. Jensen's constant nagging and devastating remarks about Lorraine's appearance. Lorraine's interest in writing and psychology arises from an attempt to understand her mother and her own situation.
Norton Kelly, another important character, is John and Lorraine's age. He enjoys thievery and inflicting cruelty on others, probably because he feels rejected himself. Norton and John are both outsiders, but they hate each other. Norton wants to steal from Mr. Pignati and hopes to use John as an informer against the old man. Norton's anger over not being invited to the party at Mr....
(The entire section is 523 words.)