Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 689

Inez Christian Victor

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Inez Christian Victor, an attractive member of an entrenched, wealthy Hawaiian family that lacks warmth and closeness. At the age of twenty, in 1955, she weds Harry Victor, who in 1969 becomes a U.S. senator and is later considered to be presidential material. Politics, she decides, costs her her memory and privacy. Consequently, she looks for intimacy in an intermittent affair with Jack Lovett, who, however, as an international adventurer is rarely available. After his death, she decides to assist refugees in Kuala Lumpur, with whom she can identify emotionally.

Paul Christian

Paul Christian, a ruthless aristocrat whose business interests often take him away from Hawaii. Obsessed with protecting his wealth and power, he not only drives away his wife and his daughter Inez but, in 1975, also kills his other daughter, Janet, for making land deals with Japanese American entrepreneur Wendell Omura. He is placed in a state asylum.

Carol Christian

Carol Christian, a California model who, in 1934, marries Paul Christian. Naïvely expecting to be embraced by the people of privilege in Hawaii, instead she remains an outsider. Out of loneliness, she often keeps her young children at home with her. Still uncomfortable in a society that ignores her, she finally abandons the islands and starts a career, booking celebrities for radio interviews in San Francisco. After Janet’s wedding, word comes of Carol’s death in a plane crash near Reno, Nevada.

Janet “Nezzie” Christian Ziegler

Janet “Nezzie” Christian Ziegler, Carol’s younger daughter. Disturbed by her mother’s absence, she looks for stability in real estate. She marries Dick Ziegler, who once made a modest fortune in Hong Kong, but undercuts his business with the complicity of Omura and her uncle Dwight. She is shot to death by her father for frustrating his dynastic plans.

Harry Victor

Harry Victor, who succeeds so well as a liberal in the Justice Department that he becomes a senator and in 1972 is spoken of as a possible presidential candidate. In the process of becoming a public figure, his sense of personal identity and his performance as husband and father suffer. He loses his family but becomes special envoy to the Common Market.

Adlai Victor

Adlai Victor, Inez’s directionless son. He is responsible for an accident that costs a fifteen-year-old girl one eye and a kidney. Sometimes he claims to be attending an “alternative” Boston college as if he were a liberal, but finally he joins the establishment as a clerk for a federal judge.

Jessica Victor

Jessica Victor, Adlai’s twin sister and a heroin addict. At the age of eighteen, she goes to Vietnam even as the war there is worsening. She has to be rescued as an “escorted orphan,” just before the general evacuation.

Billy Dillon

Billy Dillon, a public relations front man and arranger of photo opportunities for Harry Victor. He considers Inez’s interest in refugees to be too controversial and makes her a consultant on embassy paintings. He tries to prevent Paul Christian from having to stand trial, endeavoring to cover up the business connections and racism behind the murders of Wendell Omura and Janet.

Jack Lovett

Jack Lovett, a handsome adventurer, twice divorced. His mysterious occupation as an international consultant seems connected with CIA control of weapons and fuel. He sees war as a commercial enterprise and claims to be devoid of ethics and emotion, except for his love for Inez ever since they met in Honolulu in 1952. At Inez’s request, he brings Jessica safely out of Vietnam. In Jakarta, finally together with Inez, he drowns accidentally in the shallow end of a hotel swimming pool.

Joan Didion

Joan Didion, who knew Inez when they both worked at Vogue magazine in 1960. While teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, in...

(The entire section contains 2317 words.)

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Critical Essays