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Walter McKee

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Walter McKee, a successful businessman from Lincoln, Nebraska. On vacation in Mexico with his wife, grandson, and father-in-law, McKee spends his time reminiscing about his boyhood exploits with Gordon Boyd. McKee had witnessed Boyd’s charisma and great potential and had been sorely shaken to find Boyd down and out in New York. McKee’s obsession with, and absorption into, his friend’s life has left him unable to understand the direction and nature of his own life. At a bullfight, McKee is thrilled by the sense of community and daring of the matadors but saddened by the tedium of his own life in comparison. During the bullfight, his wife is appalled by the gore and forces him to take her to the car. In the process, McKee loses sight of his grandson, Gordon. Fearful that this will solidify his wife’s contempt, McKee searches for the boy and finds him in the ring. Saddened by the fact that his family witnessed his incompetence, McKee resolves to go on because he lacks the courage to change.

Gordon Boyd

Gordon Boyd, McKee’s childhood friend, who has been in competition with him since that time. Boyd essentially exploited McKee’s naïve love and turned him into an adoring fan. Boyd effectively directed McKee’s life, choosing his wife for him while also making known his love for her. Although Boyd wrote and produced a successful play, he was unable to follow up his potential and collapsed into a paralyzing nostalgia. Unlike McKee, however, Boyd became a compulsive drifter and layman philosopher, seeing through and mocking conventional morality. Boyd has nothing with which to replace it and, like McKee, is trapped in his own past. At the bullfight, Boyd exploits McKee’s inadequacies by stealing the attention of his grandson and luring the child into the bullring. Despite his antics, Boyd fails to dishearten McKee or prod Lois into accepting his romantic attention.

Lois McKee

Lois McKee, who accepts her life with McKee because he is a provider. Although Lois recognized the early competition between Boyd and her husband, she lacked the courage to fulfill her desire to elope with Boyd. In fact, Boyd’s simple seduction terrified Lois...

(The entire section contains 557 words.)

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Critical Essays