Crimes of the Heart Characters
by Beth Henley

Start Your Free Trial

Download Crimes of the Heart Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Lenore (Lenny) MaGrath

Lenore (Lenny) MaGrath, the oldest MaGrath sister. The play is set on and around her thirtieth birthday. Lenny is a thoughtful, self-conscious woman who remains concerned about her critically ill grandfather and her own impending spinsterhood. She is protective of her sisters and eventually puts Chick in her place after Chick’s vitriolic attack on the MaGrath family. By the play’s end, she is encouraged to resume a relationship with Charlie Hill, a man who replied to Lenny’s advertisement in the personal section of a periodical. Her fear that he would reject her because of her missing ovary proves to be unfounded.

Meg MaGrath

Meg MaGrath, the middle MaGrath sister, twenty-seven years of age. Meg moved to Hollywood to pursue her singing career, abandoning her lover, Doc Porter, who was injured in a hurricane accident. She returns to be close to her sisters after Babe’s shooting of her husband. Although she is the most outgoing of the three sisters, she relates to Doc that her life in Hollywood had once led to a nervous breakdown and that she has lost her singing voice. One of the consequences of her return to Hazlehurst is a rekindling of her romance with Doc; another is the return of her singing voice.

Becky (Babe) Botrelle

Becky (Babe) Botrelle, the youngest MaGrath sister, at twenty-four years of age. Babe is the reason for most of the play’s dynamics. She shot her husband, Zackery Botrelle, after he discovered that she had been having an affair with Willie Jay, a fifteen-year-old black boy who came to Babe’s house to see the dog she tended for him. Babe is the most fragile of the sisters and thus most like their mother, who scandalously hanged herself and her cat years before the action of the play. Babe’s shooting of her husband is resolved in her favor, after Zackery circulates incriminating pictures and after Willie Jay is forced to leave town. Babe later attempts suicide with a rope and with gas. She discovers, as her mother did, that suicide is a lonely act and is relieved by her failure to succeed.

Chick Boyle

Chick Boyle, the twenty-nine-year-old first cousin of the MaGrath sisters. She has yellow hair, shiny red lips, and a brassy disposition. She is ashamed of Babe’s alleged crime and voices her shame frequently and indiscriminately. Chick finally goes too far when she berates Babe as a murderer and refers to all the MaGrath sisters as “trash.” Lenny drives her out of the house with a broom and forces her to climb the mimosa tree.

Doc Porter

Doc Porter, the thirty-year-old former boyfriend of Meg. Doc comes over to inform Lenny that her twenty-year-old horse, Billy Boy, had died from being struck by lightning. Doc remains infatuated with Meg, even after his marriage to another woman and the birth of his two children. They spend their first date after Meg’s return reminiscing about the past.

Barnette Lloyd

Barnette Lloyd, Babe’s twenty-six-year-old lawyer. Barnette is a graduate of the Old Miss law school who returns to Hazlehurst to open his own firm. Meg remains dubious of Barnette’s competence when she first meets him, but Barnette has a personal vendetta against Babe’s husband, formerly a state senator from Copiah County. Barnette hopes to uncover all of Botrelle’s criminal dealings. Barnette also remains fond of Babe and hopes to save her from her abusive husband and from any criminal charges.


(Drama for Students)

Babe is the youngest MaGrath sister. At the start of the play, she has shot her husband, Zackery, a powerful and wealthy lawyer. At first, the only explanation she gives for the act is the defiant statement: "I didn't like his looks! I just didn't like his stinking looks!" Eventually, she reveals that the shooting was the result of her anger at Zackery's cruel treatment both of her and of Willie Jay, a fifteen year-old African American boy with whom Babe had been carrying on an affair.

Babe makes two attempts to kill herself late in the play. After being rescued by Meg, Babe...

(The entire section is 1,557 words.)