There are several major characters in The Clearing. Who are they, and what connections do they have to other minor characters that either sustain them or negatively affect them?

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The two major characters in Tim Gautreaux's The Clearing are the brothers, Byron and Randolph Aldridge, who are working together at their father's timber mill in the backwoods of Louisiana. I would say that there are two primary groups of minor characters that they interact with, the mill workers...

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The two major characters in Tim Gautreaux's The Clearing are the brothers, Byron and Randolph Aldridge, who are working together at their father's timber mill in the backwoods of Louisiana. I would say that there are two primary groups of minor characters that they interact with, the mill workers and the Italians, who run the saloon and have mob ties. The former are mostly positive and sustaining, while the latter are wholly negative.

As Northerners (or "Yankees"), the brothers are outsiders, Byron more than Randolph, as Randolph is more settled in the Louisiana community, even getting married and making a home there. However, both men earn the respect of the community by being fair, decent, and bold in their dealings with the Italians. The brothers also strive to treat everyone with respect, including the black characters, who are often the victims of discrimination. Randolph, a war veteran, is particularly close to his wife, and while she provides stability, she does not seem to be able to curb some of his darker tendencies, such as his drinking, brooding, or use of violence. Byron becomes close to his black maid, May, and her child, Walter, and is devastated when May is killed.

The clear antagonists of the book are the Italians, led by Vincente. They are presented in almost a stereotypical "mob" manner. There is constant tension between them and the brothers, which erupts into violence and a small-scale war.

The final character worth mentioning is the brothers' father, Noah, a single-minded businessman who always thought Randolph would take over the business and spends much of his time worrying about Randolph's instability.

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