Quentin, a lawyer who agonizes over his past—the failure of his two marriages, unhappy childhood experiences, the political witch-hunts in the 1950’s, and the extent to which he bears personal responsibility for what happened to his close friends and his two wives. Quentin views these past events from the perspective of the present. He has met Holga, with whom he has fallen in love. She is European and brings with her a sense of the European past, including that of World War II, of mass destruction and the concentration camps. Quentin reacts to this grim history in terms of his own life, questioning his motives; his selfishness; his rejection of his first wife, Louise; and his inability to help his tormented second wife, Maggie. Although Quentin is not able to resolve all the conflicts within himself, with Holga’s help he does come to understand better his own implication in the sufferings of others.
Holga, Quentin’s fiancée, who helps him come to terms with his guilt over his previous marriages. Having suffered greatly herself during the war, she has had to deal with the issues of responsibility that Quentin addresses. Her calm, abiding presence throughout the play bespeaks a sensibility that has grown with experience and is able to accept the worst that Quentin can confess about his own character.
Louise, Quentin’s first wife, who has been his mainstay for many years. In several flashback scenes, Quentin explores his estrangement from her. She is unable to understand Quentin’s...
(The entire section is 651 words.)