A mixed group of voices
A mixed group of voices, most of them unidentified. This New Novel, as such, does not contain characters in a traditional sense, just as there is no plot in a traditional sense. The text is one long narrative, delineated by shifts in speakers, most not identified well enough to individualize. Most of the speakers are identified only by pronouns. Many are referred to in the third person (he, she, it, they); few have the distinction of a “we” or “I.”
The grandmother, also called Grandmama, an elderly woman with silver and gold hair. Her thin hands are covered with tan age spots, and her eyes look like blue enamel. She is physically frail, though a spark of life still exists within her. When her grandchildren call her “sweet,” she inwardly rebels against such a confining description; her reaction shows only in her eyes, however, and it is up to one of her grandchildren, her favorite grandson, to stop the others from saying the detested word.
The grandson, a young boy. He becomes upset when the other grandchildren continually say, as they caress their grandmother, “She is sweet . . . couldn’t you just bite her.” He is teased by her relatives, who say that he is developing an “undershot” jaw and that soon he will be as ugly as his Uncle François.
Mr. Varenger, an old man who walks stooped over. He resents what he sees as the patronizing attitude of the young toward the old.
The young newlywed girl
The young newlywed girl, who suddenly realizes that her husband is a miser. Distraught over whether to leave him or merely ignore this flaw, the girl is goaded by two formless voices into making a decision.