Nadine, the protagonist and narrator. The only child of an exclusively devoted couple, Nadine feels isolated and yearns to be a Siamese twin, so that she might be forever attached to someone else. She is fascinated by newspaper and magazine accounts of Amos and Eddie Smith, twins joined at their abdomens by an extra band of liver. In her twenties, she meets the twins, marries Amos, and bears his two children. The only developing character, Nadine spends her youth and early adulthood frantically trying to make sense of the chaotic world in which she lives, frequently screaming in disbelief at the blindness of others. She is the only one who seems aware of ludicrous or dangerous situations.
Dianne Shapiro, a child prodigy, later a lawyer, and Nadine’s best friend. Unlike Nadine, Dianne protects herself by living a lie. She lies to herself that she will be perfectly happy as a full-time mother, withholds from her obstetrician the fact that her husband is a Siamese twin, and insists that her daughter’s friends are “nice, quiet kids” when in reality they are school dropouts and drug addicts. Because of her self-deception, Dianne is able to maintain her equanimity.
Amos Smith and
Eddie Smith, Siamese twins and the husbands of Nadine and Dianne, respectively. Abandoned by their widowed father at the age of four,...
(The entire section is 415 words.)