Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

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Henry, an aging man afflicted with hemorrhoids who lives by the “cursed” sea and who talks to himself in the hope of drowning out its sound. An isolated figure incapable of bringing anything he does to completion, he conjures up people from his past, including the father he longs both to escape and to resurrect. He imagines these others and tells himself stories no longer solely for company but more especially to have someone who knew him in the past and who can therefore understand what he is now, the “washout” his father judged him to be. Henry would like his life to be dramatically interesting—a series of narrative “thuds”—rather than this “sucking.” His day at the shore, spent resurrecting the dead and telling one of his unfinished, unfinishable stories, ends with Henry’s realization of what he is and what he has: nothing.

Henry’s father

Henry’s father, described as “an old man blind and foolish.” Unlike Henry, he loved the sea. Whether he drowned while taking his evening swim or ran off to escape his family is not clear.


Ada, Henry’s wife. Whether Ada is physically present in this radio play or is, like the father, a voice that Henry imagines is left in doubt. Originally attracted by Henry’s smile and his laughter, she slowly grew critical of his habit of talking to himself, as he did of her small talk. She appears to have been a methodical, imperious woman and is now estranged from Henry emotionally and perhaps also in space and time.


Addie, Henry and Ada’s daughter, born late in their marriage. Forced by her mother to take music and riding lessons, she is (or was) quite attached to and dependent on Henry, who claims to want nothing to do with her and who blames her for...

(The entire section is 463 words.)