Miriam Aarons, a twenty-eight-year old stage actress who stars in musical comedies, is part of Mary’s social circle. Early in the play Miriam is having an affair with Howard Fowler, Sylvia’s husband. While in Reno, Sylvia learns that Miriam is the woman for whom Howard has divorced her and that he plans to marry Miriam after the divorce. Upon hearing this, Sylvia physically attacks Miriam, and the two women engage in a vicious hairpulling fight. After Miriam marries Howard, she is referred to as the second Mrs. Fowler. Toward the very end of the play, Miriam helps and encourages Mary to trick Crystal Allen into admitting that she is cheating on Stephen.
With Crystal Allen, Luce portrays a workingclass woman who is able to improve her socioeconomic status through being the mistress, then wife, of a wealthy man. Crystal is a young shop-girl who is having an affair with Stephen Haines, the husband of Mary Haines. Crystal first met Stephen while working at the perfume counter of Saks Fifth Avenue. As the play opens, Crystal has been living for several months as Stephen’s mistress in a fancy apartment in the Hotel Waverly.
Crystal is described by one character as a ‘‘terrible man-trap.’’ She first appears in the play at a women’s clothing store, where she is trying on clothes to be paid for by Stephen. When Mary confronts Crystal in the dressing room of the store, Crystal is completely unapologetic about being Stephen’s mistress. She tells Mary that Stephen plans to get divorced and marry her. Crystal thus succeeds in humiliating Mary.
After Crystal is married to Stephen, she complains that he is no fun to be with, because he feels guilty and regretful about having lost Mary. Crystal is unfaithful to Stephen and has an affair with Buck Winston. After Little Mary overhears Crystal talking ‘‘lovey-dovey’’ on the telephone to Buck, she tells her mother about what she has overheard. Mary is thus able to sabotage Crystal’s marriage to Stephen by forcing her to confess to the affair with Buck.
Nancy Blake, aged thirty-five, is the only woman in Mary’s social circle who has never been married. Nancy is a financially independent woman who supports herself as a novelist, although her novels are not particularly popular. Because she’s never been married and does not seem to be trying to find a husband, she is above all of the in-fighting that takes place between the other women over competition for husbands.
Peggy (Mrs. John Day), age twenty-five, is the youngest member of Mary’s social circle. Peggy is a more sympathetic character than most of Mary’s friends. Whereas the other women have a callous attitude toward each others’ marital troubles, Peggy is genuinely sympathetic regarding the crises in her friends’ marriages. When she learns that Mary’s marital problems have been confided to a gossip columnist, she is genuinely upset. Likewise, Peggy cries when she learns that Sylvia’s husband has kicked her out and wants a divorce.
Later, Peggy tells her friends that she and her husband are getting divorced. While in Reno processing her divorce, Peggy learns that she is pregnant by her husband. Her friends convince her to call John and reconcile with him, which she does. Peggy then packs to return to New York and reunite with her husband.
The Countess De Lage
The Countess de Lage, a wealthy middle-aged woman, is a member of Mary’s social circle. The countess has been divorced four times. Because she is so wealthy, she tends to attract younger men who want to marry her for her money. While in Reno, she considers marrying a cowboy by the name of Buck Winston.
After the countess marries Buck Winston, she helps him to become a movie star in Hollywood. Toward the end of the play, she confides to her friends that she suspects Buck is cheating on her. It is later revealed that Buck has been having an affair with Crystal Allen.
The countess seems to have a somewhat different attitude about marriage and divorce from the other women in Mary’s social circle. She expresses a more light-hearted perspective on the series of marriages and divorces she has engaged in. She does not seem to be bothered much when one marriage fails and is ready to move on to the next marriage.
Sylvia (Mrs. Howard Fowler), aged thirty-four, is one of the married women in Mary’s social circle. Sylvia causes the initial incident that sets off the central conflict of the play when, in the opening scene, she announces to her friends that Mary’s husband is having an affair. Sylvia does not tell Mary this information directly but suggests that Mary get a manicure from a woman named Olga, who is sure to pass the gossip on to her. Sylvia recommends that Mary get her nails painted ‘‘Jungle Red,’’ the same color she herself is wearing.
Sylvia once again sets off a major conflict in Mary’s life when she convinces Mary to confront Crystal Allan in the dressing room of a clothing store. When this incident gets into the hands of a gossip columnist, Mary’s marriage is severely affected by it.
Later, Sylvia’s husband kicks her out because she has been having an affair with a young man who works for him. Sylvia’s husband divorces her because he wants to marry another woman, with whom he has been having an affair. While Sylvia is in Reno to obtain her...
(The entire section is 2257 words.)