Laura McRaven, a cousin to the Fairchilds, a remarkable and close-knit Delta family. At nine, Laura makes her first journey alone. She is going to the Delta to visit her dead mother’s people; her cousin Dabney is being married. Laura’s chief regret is that she is not to be in the wedding party, but at the last minute, when one of the children falls sick, this wish is granted. After the wedding, Laura’s aunt asks her to live with them. Being wanted by the Fairchilds seems wonderful beyond belief, but Laura knows that she must go back to her father.
Dabney Fairchild, Laura’s cousin, a bride-to-be. Dabney is marrying the plantation manager, whose social position is inferior. Dabney, before her marriage, feels ambivalent—loving her fiancé, but at the same time afraid of being at all outside her family. After the honeymoon, the couple returns to live at Marmion, an estate owned by the family. Everything now seems right to Dabney.
Battle Fairchild, her father, the owner of Shellmound plantation. The Fairchilds seldom talk as a family but always act as one. Characteristically, Battle is reluctant to let Dabney go, but he cannot even say that he will miss her.
Ellen Fairchild, Dabney’s mother. Sharing the Fairchild reticence, which is in fact family loyalty, she expresses only to her...
(The entire section is 434 words.)