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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 490

Richard Power's Gain tells the intertwining stories of the Clare family and the Bodey family. When the goals of one family affect the health and happiness of the other, the reader is left to question when capitalism turns from the American dream to a nightmare.

The Clare family begins with Sarah and Jephthah Clare, immigrants looking for a new life in America. Over the course of the novel, we learn about many generations of the Clare family and some of the key people who helped grow their business.

Jephthah had a gambling problem that urged his exodus from England. He travelled with his family across the ocean and landed in Boston where he established his company. They started by selling Wedgewood china and grew.

Sarah raised her children with an ethical backbone, which she worried her husband lacked.

Robert Ennis was a candle maker from Ireland who happened upon the Clare's front door. The family ultimately tracked him down once they realized he had excellent products and convinced him to work with them.

Anthony Hewitt was an engineer hired by the Clares to build the equipment necessary to manufacture their soap and candles.

Samuel, Benjamin, and Resolve Clare are Jephthah and Sarah's three sons who transform the fledgling import business into the start of the Clare Soap and Chemical Company.

The Bodey family consists of Laura, Don, Ellen, and Tim. Laura and Don are divorced and doing everything they an to come together to raise their daughter, Ellen, and their son, Tim.

Laura is the matriarch of the Bodey clan. She is in her early forties and works as a real estate agent to support her family. She falls ill after her doctors discover a cyst on her ovary that turns out to be malignant. She ultimately succumbs to the disease and dies.

Don remains loyal to Laura and after her cancer diagnosis he suspects the cancer may have developed due to the unsafe conditions that result from the Clare factory. He convinces Laura to join a class action lawsuit which ultimately gains her a lump payout. After Laura dies, Don marries her best friend.

Ellen's friend passes away from a mysterious illness that is ultimately loosely attributed to the chemical runoff. When she grows up, and after her mother dies, Ellen moves away. She becomes a nurse and gets married. She and her husband have trouble conceiving and the doctors discover that she, too, has ovarian cancer. It is her inability to conceive that ultimately saves her life. She moves back to her hometown to try to make a life there with her husband.

Tim faces his mother's illness head-on and tries to get whatever he can from his last moments with her. When he's older, he goes to graduate school for science and begins to research the strain of ovarian cancer that took Laura's life. He uses the money from his mother's lawsuit to start his own business.

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