The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Although Pop Fraser is initially seen as the narrator of the novel, Petry’s narrative rotates point of view among the characters, a technique that enables the collective history of the characters to emerge from individual points of truth, as well as to illustrate that no single character holds a monopoly on the truth. Pop Fraser acquaints readers with the action of the narrative, and he represents a delightful combination of the best of the old traditions as they merge with the best of the new.

Johnnie’s point of view and inner conflict emerges distinctly through his descriptions of Glory’s hair as a shimmering net, “spread wide to hold his heart.” Ironically, through Glory, Johnnie is trapped by his idealization and dreams. Only when confronted directly with the truth of Glory’s infidelity can Johnnie see her clearly. His glimpse of reality affords him the opportunity to view himself and his place in Lennox in a harsher light. Glory’s infidelity is the impetus for his change, which mirrors the changes he sees around him in Lennox and in American society as a result of the war.

Glory is trapped by her fears of an uncertain future in a society that is reeling from two world wars. She watches her life unfurl before her with the avid interest of an audience watching a cinema show. She imagines herself as a film heroine, a fantasy that is fueled by her affair with Ed, who compares her to the actress Lana Turner. Glory is a representation of the brassy and cheap new society, enamored of glamour and hungry for...

(The entire section is 631 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Johnnie Roane

Johnnie Roane, the protagonist, a young man who returns home from World War II with idealized expectations of a happy reunion with his wife, Glory, and a happy return to his hometown, Lennox. A sensitive and artistic man. Johnnie has squelched dreams of becoming an artist and moving to New York in order to keep Glory. His long-distance deification of Glory helped him to endure the war.

Mrs. Bertha Laughton Gramby

Mrs. Bertha Laughton Gramby, the wealthiest woman in town. Her advanced years, fortune, and race have granted her status as an icon in the predominantly white town. A living embodiment of New England tradition, Mrs. Gramby blindly idealizes the past. Her status as a widow has compelled her to subordinate her son Mearns’s youthful ambitions and marital prospects in order to keep him in Lennox, yet she is disappointed by his later lack of ambition and his poor choice of Lil as a bride. His marriage, in middle age, will bear no heirs to the Gramby estate.

Glory Roane

Glory Roane, Johnnie’s beautiful and promiscuous young wife. She lives in a state of illusion, spurred by fantasies drawn from films and by fear of the realities she will face. Discovering her pleasure at the independence she acquires after Johnnie’s departure, Glory is reluctant to succumb to the boredom and drudgery of domestic duties, turning instead to the glamour she finds at her job at...

(The entire section is 481 words.)