Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Arnold Beckoff

Arnold Beckoff, a female impersonator, twenty-five years old, Jewish, and gay. Arnold plays Virginia Hamn, a singer of torch songs. He is proud of his sexuality, and his life revolves around the gay culture. Arnold meets Ed, a bisexual schoolteacher, at a bar called the International Stud. He is devastated when Ed jilts him to take up with a woman. Arnold later meets a young hustler, Alan, and they become lovers. Still in love with Ed and not over his hurt, he is unfaithful to Alan, making routine trips to the back room of the International Stud for indiscriminate sex. When Arnold finally meets Laurel, the woman in Ed’s life, at Ed’s country home, he tells her that Ed is using her to prove his own normalcy. Arnold and Alan plan to adopt a child, but Alan is killed by a group of homophobic punks before the adoption goes through. Arnold assumes the responsibility alone, caring for David, a fifteen-year-old juvenile delinquent. Ed finally leaves Laurel and moves onto Arnold’s couch until he can find another place to live. Arnold indicates to Ed that there is a good chance that they can renew their relationship.

Ed Reiss

Ed Reiss, a Brooklyn schoolteacher. He is thirty-five years old, handsome, charming, and, at times, insensitive. Ed claims that he is bisexual; Arnold labels him a closet case. Ed approaches Arnold at a gay bar and, for two weeks, sees him consistently. Confused over his sexuality, he is unable to make a commitment to Arnold or to the homosexual lifestyle. He becomes involved with a woman named Laurel and, after participating in group therapy, decides to marry her. When Arnold and his new lover, Alan, visit Ed and his wife at their farmhouse near Montreal, Ed experiences pangs of jealousy and seduces Alan. Ed eventually realizes that his relationship with Laurel is not a panacea and decides to leave her. Turning to his only gay friend, Arnold, he moves in and becomes a surrogate father to David. He wants to renew his relationship with Arnold, but Arnold will accept him only if...

(The entire section is 842 words.)

Torch Song Trilogy Characters

Alan
Alan is a handsome young man, eighteen-years old, who models and aspires to be an actor. He enters into a...

(The entire section is 636 words.)