Louis (lwee), a dying lawyer who comes to realize that his heart is a knot of vipers. Intelligent, cunning, greedy, unscrupulous, and incapable of love, Louis—as death approaches—writes a letter to be left to his wife. The letter, intended to explain his hatred for her and their children, becomes a diary of his dying days, a record of his life, and functionally an autobiography; ultimately, it becomes a confession of his spiritual journey to Christianity. The document rambles but is always coherent and organized as it records his unhappiness as a miser. In writing it, Louis comes to see his own selfish and evil nature, and he is transformed.
Isa Fondaudège (ee-SAH fon-doh-DEHZH), Louis’ wife. Self-sacrificing to Louis and the children, Isa is a remarkably strong person in dealing with such a serpent as her husband. She lives with him by honoring the rule of not having conversation with him about anything important, by being subservient, and by being devoted to the Catholic church and her children. Stable, steady, and always dependable, she never does anything unpredictable in her life, except to shock everyone by dying before Louis.
Hubert (ew-BEHR), Louis’ son, a stockbroker by trade. Cunning, greedy, and unscrupulous, Hubert is a nearly exact replication of...
(The entire section is 518 words.)