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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 966

David Alexander David is the eighteen-year-old son of Margaret and Luke. David plays the piano in the church during Margaret’s sermons, and his mother wants him to pursue a life of devotion to religion, utilizing his musical talents for that purpose only. David, however, has enrolled in a music school, and has been secretly sneaking out to jazz clubs and playing in a jazz band. One night, he sneaks out to hear his estranged father, Luke, also a musician, play at a jazz club. When Luke arrives at Margaret’s house, David learns that it was his mother who had left his father, and not his father who had abandoned them, as she had led him to believe. While Margaret had wanted David to accompany her to Philadelphia, David chooses to stay home with his dying father. David and Luke have an important discussion about the family history, his parents’ relationship, and jazz music. When Margaret returns from Philadelphia, David confronts her with the decision that he is leaving home to pursue a career as a jazz musician. David tries to explain to his mother that he can make a better contribution to the world through pursuing his own musical calling, pleading with her that ‘‘Maybe I can say something—one day—maybe I can say something in music that’s never been said before.’’

Luke Alexander Luke is the estranged husband of Margaret, and the father of David. Luke arrives unexpectedly at Margaret’s house and collapses from illness. He confronts Margaret with the fact that she had left him after blaming him for the death of their infant child years earlier. Margaret is unsympathetic to his pleas of love for her, and leaves for a brief trip to Philadelphia, despite the fact that he lies dying in a bed in her home. While Margaret is gone, Luke has an important conversation with their son, David, in which he tries to explain to David his perspective on his relationship with Margaret. After Margaret returns from Philadelphia, Luke again confronts her with the fact that she had unfairly blamed him for the death of their infant and had used religion as an escape and an excuse to leave him. He tells her that David’s decision to leave is a decision to ‘‘live,’’ not a moral lapse on his part. Most of all, Luke pleads with Margaret that he loved her and needed her and that she should never have left him. Luke then dies, after which Margaret finally realizes the truth of what he has said.

Margaret Alexander Margaret Alexander is the pastor of a church. In the first scene of the play, she gives a sermon. She then prepares to leave for a brief trip to Philadelphia to aid another church. As she is about to leave, her estranged husband, Luke, arrives unexpectedly and collapses from illness. Several members of Margaret’s congregation learn that while she had lead everyone to believe that Luke had abandoned her with their son, David, in fact it was Margaret who left Luke. Despite the fact that Luke lies on his deathbed in her home, Margaret leaves for Philadelphia anyway. While she is gone, members of her congregation meet to discuss their various dissatisfactions with Margaret’s position as pastor of their church. They question her use of church funds as well as the new information that she had abandoned her own husband. When Margaret returns, she is confronted by her son, her estranged husband, and her congregation. David informs her that he has been secretly playing in a jazz band and is going to leave home to pursue a...

(This entire section contains 966 words.)

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career as a jazz musician. Luke confronts her with the fact that she had blamed him for the death of their infant child years ago and had abandoned him in the name of the service of God; Luke points out Margaret’s hypocrisy in using religion as an excuse to escape life. Finally, Margaret’s congregation confronts her on similar grounds. Having lost her son, her husband, and her congregation, Margaret finally realizes that religion should not have been an excuse for her to break up her family but a reason for her to stand by her man.

Brother Boxer Brother Boxer is an elder of Margaret’s church who resents her for insisting that it is sinful of him to take a job driving a liquor delivery truck.

Sister Boxer Sister Boxer is an elder of Margaret’s church who criticizes Margaret for insisting that it is sinful for her husband, Brother Boxer, to take a job driving a liquor delivery truck.

Ida Jackson Ida Jackson is a young woman who steps up to the pulpit during Margaret’s sermon with a plea for help for her sick baby. Margaret advises her to leave her husband, but Mrs. Jackson protests that she doesn’t want to leave her husband. Later, Mrs. Jackson returns to Margaret for consolation after her baby has died. Again, Mrs. Jackson protests Margaret’s religious explanations and consolations, asserting instead that ‘‘I just want my man and my home and my children.’’ Margaret tells her that she needs to pray, but Mrs. Jackson disagrees, maintaining that she is going home to her husband instead. Margaret finally realizes that Mrs. Jackson is right to stand by her man, rather than abandon him in the name of religion, telling her, ‘‘Get on home to your husband. Go on home, to your man.’’

Sister Moore Sister Moore is an elder of Margaret’s church who is instrumental in having Margaret ousted from her position as pastor.

Odessa Odessa is Margaret’s sister, who lives with Margaret and David. Odessa is supportive of Margaret, and defends her against the criticism of the members of her congregation.




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