Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1671
Beth is Tom's wife and Karen's best friend. She is an artist of questionable talent. She is also the antithesis of Karen. She can't cook, is totally unorganized, and leans more on her emotions to direct her life than on her rational thoughts. As a couple, she and her husband, Tom, stand as models directly opposed to the couple represented by Gabe and Karen Beth is not very communicative or supportive of her husband.
Beth flounders in her art and seems to lack direction in her life. She is also a bit manipulative. She leans on Karen during the initial stages of the separation between her and Tom, then she disappears once she finds someone else to lean on. In the end, the audience also discovers that Beth is not very honest or open with Karen.
It's hard to tell how serious Beth is. In a flashback to the time when Beth and Tom first meet, Beth appears to be consumed with being an artist Her conversations are filled with images of light and color. But her conversations appear showy, and she refuses to show Tom her sketches. She is also judgmental, summing Tom up with mean-spirited statements And yet, she claims she hates labels "Why not just take it at face value?'' she asks defensively when Tom asks her what style of art she follows.
In her last scene with Karen, Beth comes to see herself in a new light It's not the light that her friend Karen would like to see her in, but it is a light that makes Beth feel good about herself. She has shaken off an old skin, like a snake coming out of hibernation. She was so enthralled with Karen in the past that she thought she wanted to be Karen. With the impetus of her husband leaving her, Beth has re-evaluated herself and found something new inside of her. "We can't all be like you, Karen," Beth says "God knows I've tried. No matter how much / stir, my soup still sticks to the pot."
Gabe, like his wife, Karen, is in his forties and writes about food for a living Tom is Gabe's best friend, and although Gabe does not seem to have much affection for Beth, he is nice to her because she is Tom's wife and Karen's best friend
Overall, Gabe lives an orderly and structured life. Every summer he takes his wife and children to the same island home that he has been going to since he was a child. He and his wife, Karen, seem perfectly matched. They are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle They know one another so well that their conversations fit together, one piece overlapping the other, as they finish one another's sentences. Knowing one another so well, however, can also bring a kind of boredom into their life. And it is this sheath of boredom that is exposed when Gabe listens to Tom's new outlook on life.
Gabe tries to play the role of the peacemaker. He wants to see life from all angles. He might not agree with what his friend Tom has done, but he is not as critical about the situation as his wife is. He understands that life and people are complex. Gabe is also the peacemaker because he doesn't like to rock the boat; he likes the status quo. He wants to avoid messes. Gabe often has to be prompted to speak his mind about his emotions. He is often quiet because he does not want to cause any trouble. But once he opens up, he pretty much lets it all come out.
Gabe is also somewhat child-like. He has an innocence about him One of his favorite ways to woo his wife is to play a silly little game—a game a father might play with his child to make the child laugh The game sounds trivial when it first appears in act 2. But at the end of the play, when Gabe begins playing the game again in the heat of a serious talk with Karen, his intention behind the game is a little more obvious Gabe is using the game to try to rekindle the romance in their relationship—to take them back to a time when the mundane things of life were not such a huge factor in...
(The entire section contains 1671 words.)
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