Brian (Bri), a thirty-three-year-old schoolteacher in Bristol, England. Bri is an adept comedian, jokester, and mimic who has found that humor is the only escape from or cure for the reality of living with a spastic child. He loves his wife, Sheila, and their daughter, Joe, but feels that circumstances (an unexpected pregnancy and ensuing medical malpractice) have thrown him into an untenable situation. He is moody, emotionally spontaneous, and deeply jealous of Joe for usurping Sheila’s attention. An aspiring painter who has lost the creative drive and taken solace in drinking, he dislikes and is ineffective in his job as a schoolteacher. To him, God is a manic-depressive rugby player. Bri is very cynical and will not tolerate false hopes about Joe’s condition. Although he propels the elaborate farce that he and Sheila enact to fulfill their life with Joe, he cannot understand why Joe must live, and finally he acts on his impulse to commit euthanasia.
Sheila, Bri’s thirty-five-year-old wife. Sheila is an industrious and warm-hearted woman who loves living things; besides looking after Bri and Joe, she cares for a menagerie of pets and houseplants. A decade of hard work and frustrated motherhood have left her weary and somewhat humorless. She thinks carefully about human behavior and believes in psychology and the power of the subconscious. She harbors deep guilt about Joe’s condition and feels that her earlier promiscuity and the fear of motherhood it...
(The entire section is 626 words.)