List of Characters

Debbie Pelbry—a blossoming teenage girl who thinks often about her true love.

Helen Pelbry—Debbie’s mother.

Hector—an initially hesitant teenager who blossoms as he learns to play the guitar.

Rowanne—Hector’s older sister, who seems more grown up than he does.

Liz—a friend of Rowanne’s that Hector encounters at the coffee shop.

Skip (also called Chip and Flip)—wants to go out with Rowanne.

Chrisanne—Debbie’s close friend, who is a nice person.

Tesey—Debbie’s and Chrisanne’s neighbor.

Cupcake—Debbie’s dog.

Phil—a friend of Hector’s and Debbie’s.

Patty—a friend of Debbie’s who joins the Criss Cross listeners sometimes.

Debbie’s father—fixes a faucet with Debbie.

Pastor Don—the Presbyterian minister who teaches Hector how to play the guitar.

Mary—a gray-haired woman who is taking guitar lessons along with Hector.

Mr. Schimpf—Hector’s former Cub Scout leader who is also taking guitar lessons.

Robin—girl Rowanne’s age who is taking guitar lessons along with Hector.

Meadow—a pretty girl Hector’s age who is also taking guitar lessons.

Dan Persik—a handsome football player Hector’s age who is also taking guitar lessons.

Russell Kebbesward—a dark-haired guitar student.

Annette Kebbesward—Russell’s little sister who plays an orphan in Oliver.

Lenny—a friend of Debbie’s and Hector’s, he is mechanically gifted.

Leon—Lenny’s dad, who loves his son and is proud of his mechanical prowess.

Mrs. Bruning—Debbie’s arthritic and diabetic German American neighbor.

Peter Bruning—Mrs. Bruning’s grandson from California.

Man with no legs—a vet who lost his legs in a war; Dan talks to him.

Character Analysis

Debbie Pelbry is the main female character and one of the two main characters in Criss Cross. Debbie is emerging from the cocoon of childhood into the larger world, her adult female self, her fate, and the world of romantic possibilities. Unfortunately, all of those are jumbled up together for Debbie. What is more, as she emerges into these arenas, so do all of her friends (except, of course, that the boys are becoming men). When taken in combination, these factors mean Debbie is never quite sure if an event is a sign of some hidden order in the universe, if it is an accident, or if it means a boy likes her and is about to kiss her.

Debbie reads a fair amount and thinks about the nature of the world. In Seldem, this often is jumbled up (once again) with thinking about those around her, so that the men and women she sees every day people a meditation on the nature of love. Debbie also reflects on her maturation process by watching those around her; she is very much aware of changes in Lenny, Phil, and her other friends. Debbie has a good heart. She helps Mrs. Bruning out of simple and spontaneous affection for her, and she is pleased when she sees others growing and having good times, as when Hector learns to play the guitar. Debbie also seeks to know herself by studying pictures of her mother and her mother herself, tracing the path her mother took from girl to woman.

Hector is the main male character in Criss Cross. When the novel opens, Hector is actively searching for an identity and a direction. He knows that he is on the brink of change, but he cannot figure out what that change is or how to get there. He actively tries on metaphors for himself, as if trying on identities and life paths, then essentially stumbles into both a self and a path for a while when he accompanies his sister Rowanne to a coffee house...

(The entire section is 678 words.)