For much of the period covered in D’Arcy McNickle’s novel, Max Leon and his wife, Catherine LaLoup, live largely separate lives in two different houses on their Montana ranch. They are the parents of two sons, Archilde and Louis, who are primarily involved with their mother, and a daughter, Agnes. Agnes and her children live with Max.
The feud between Max and Catherine had begun years before, when Archilde was tiny. Max had been unfairly accused of encouraging the brothers to steal a neighbor’s horses. Infuriated at this injustice, although exonerated, Max refused to stay with Catherine and built his own house to live in alone. The rift between the parents is never healed, although Archilde does reconcile with his father.