Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 442
Cawdor, a fifty-year-old farmer, hard and strong. Drawn to worship Fera’s youthful beauty and contrarily to possess her sexually, he bargains to let her father stay in his home if Fera will marry him. Rightly suspecting Fera’s later passion for Hood but mistaken in believing Hood guilty, Cawdor seeks confirmation of his suspicions. Burning with jealousy, he believes Fera’s lie that Hood raped her in the laurels; enraged, he meets Hood at the high rock and knocks him over the adjacent cliff. When he learns from Fera of Hood’s innocence, he blinds himself like Oedipus of old, who put out the eyes that could not see the truth.
Hood Cawdor, his second son, a strong young hunter who has been separated from his father because of a quarrel. Loyal to his father after his return, Hood resists Fera’s attempts at seduction by the seashore, in his room, and in the laurels. He is killed anyway by gulled Cawdor.
Fera, Martial’s daughter, an intense, bold girl who admires strength and who expects hardness and pride in Cawdor’s treatment of her as a wife. She begins a sexual pursuit of Hood almost upon his return home. Inflamed with desire and angry at being rebuffed when she tries repeatedly to seduce him, she goads Cawdor with the lie that Hood violated her in the laurels. Thus, through her duplicity, she accomplishes her revenge for being spurned. Having failed at seduction, she also fails in attempting suicide and still again in her cruel urging that Cawdor kill himself. Although Fera speaks often of longing for death and of death as a blessing, it is difficult to decide how sincere she is because she lies with such ease. Fera is destructive by nature.
George Cawdor, Hood’s brother, a farmer, in contrast to Hood the hunter.
Michal Cawdor, the younger sister of George and Hood. She traps ground squirrels and watches her caged, crippled eagle kill and eat them. At Fera’s suggestion, she finally has George shoot the eagle.
Martial, a former schoolmaster, a dreamer, and an abject alcoholic failure. This former enemy of Cawdor was blinded in the explosion of an oil drum during a sweeping brush fire. A pitiful remnant of a man, he slowly declines and dies as the result of his burns and is buried near the graves of Cawdor’s wife and child.
Concha Rosas, Cawdor’s Indian servant and mistress.
Jesus Acanna, Cawdor’s Indian farmhand.
Dante Vitello, a new Swiss farmhand.
Romano, Concha Rosas’ young son.
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