Walter McKee, who is responsible for organizing his father-in-law’s ninetieth birthday celebration, held in the prairie ghost town of Lone Tree. Although McKee is tired of the continual presence of Tom Scanlon, his father-in-law, he labors on under a sense of duty. This condition of denial accounts for an emotional decay in McKee, a corrosive element that distances him from his wife, family, and friends. McKee focuses on this lack of understanding, which produces a continual state of perplexity over the most normal circumstances of life. McKee’s return to Lone Tree with the Scanlon clan reinforces his sense of isolation in the world. With the quiet death of the old man and the marriage of his niece and nephew, McKee is vindicated in his consistent decency.
Lois McKee, McKee’s wife, who long ago abandoned Lone Tree for Lincoln, Nebraska, and exchanged rural hardships for a streamlined existence in the suburbs. With McKee, she builds a life of denial in an attempt to control the present; she maintains a sense of propriety at all costs. Her return to Lone Tree brings a certain foreboding of exposure and humiliation in front of her family, and in many ways this is played out. Lois not only excoriates McKee for the coward that he is; she also demolishes Boyd’s pathetic fantasy of unrequited love for her.
Etoile Momeyer, the daughter of Bud and Maxine, a self-assured young teenager. Proud...
(The entire section is 618 words.)