Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Penelope (Penny) Vanderhof Sycamore
Penelope (Penny) Vanderhof Sycamore, a mother in her mid-fifties, the matriarch of a comic household, carefree and easygoing. Penny clearly loves her family and life itself. After a typewriter is mistakenly delivered to her, she drops her old hobby of painting and begins to write plays. She does both very badly, but with style and good humor.
Paul Sycamore, Penny’s husband and father of the Sycamore brood. Paul has given up ordinary work to construct fireworks in his basement. He often tries them out in the center of the living room. He intends to market them, but his plans never quite work out. Paul is less involved than his wife in the lives of the children because he spends so much time in the basement.
Grandpa Martin Vanderhof
Grandpa Martin Vanderhof, the patriarch and founder of the family’s unconventional lifestyle. The Sycamore family clearly revolves around Grandpa, and his eccentric clear-sightedness saves the day more than once. One day, Grandpa left work and never returned; he spends his life now in a more productive manner, throwing darts, attending commencements, and enjoying his family.
Essie Sycamore Carmichael
Essie Sycamore Carmichael, the elder daughter, who is married. Essie splits her time between making new kinds of candy (successfully) and practicing to become a ballerina...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
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