The Heidi Chronicles

by Wendy Wasserstein

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Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 801

Heidi Holland

Heidi Holland, an art history professor and essayist who teaches at Columbia University. After attending Miss Crain’s School in Chicago in the mid-1960’s, she pursues her education as an undergraduate at Vassar and a member of the art history graduate program at Yale in the early 1970’s. Throughout her professional career, she advocates greater recognition for female artists, demonstrating at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1974, writing the book And the Light Floods in from the Left in the late 1970’s, directing the group Women’s Art in 1982, and arranging a show on Lila Cabot Perry in 1984. Although she has a deepening friendship with Peter Patrone and long-standing relationships with Susan Johnston and Scoop Rosenbaum, she feels lonely and stranded in 1986. Dissatisfied with social standards that discourage both women and men from recognizing and achieving their full potential, Heidi hopes that Judy, the Panamanian infant she adopts in 1988, will live in a more encouraging milieu than the one in which she came of age.

Scoop Rosenbaum

Scoop Rosenbaum, a man whom Heidi meets at a 1967 Eugene McCarthy fund-raiser in New Hampshire. Dressed in blue jeans and a work shirt, the Exeter graduate and Princeton dropout informs her that he is the editor in chief of The Liberated Earth News and displays a penchant for assigning grades to potato chips, music, people, and whatever else strikes his fancy. Describing himself as arrogant, difficult, and very smart, he simultaneously attracts and repels Heidi, with whom he carries on a sexual relationship while a Yale law student in 1970 and United States Supreme Court clerk in 1974. A junior associate at Sullivan Cromwell in 1977, he marries Lisa Friedlander, explaining to Heidi that, although he will always love the “A+” Heidi, the “A-” Lisa will prove to be a less competitive and, hence, more satisfactory wife. After becoming the influential editor of Boomer magazine, Scoop has an affair with his graphics assistant in 1980. By 1982, he and Lisa have two children, Maggie and Pierre. Increasingly estranged from Heidi in the 1980’s, Scoop visits her in 1988 with a silver spoon for Judy. He uses the occasion to tell Heidi that he has sold Boomer and decided to campaign for a congressional seat.

Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston, Heidi’s boy-crazy high school girlfriend. By 1970, she is a member of the Huron Street Ann Arbor Consciousness Raising Rap Group. She announces to the group that, instead of starting a women’s legal journal, she wishes to work within the system and accept a job with The Law Review, but she later leaves her clerkship alongside Scoop at the Supreme Court in 1974 to move to a women’s health and legal collective in Montana. In 1980, having attended business school, she accepts a position in Los Angeles as an executive vice president for a new production company. By 1984, she is a power broker, uninterested in Heidi’s emotional distress and unappreciative of the serious nature of her work, who callously proposes that her friend act as a consultant in creating a situation comedy about three female artists in a Houston loft.

Peter Patrone

Peter Patrone, a boy Heidi meets at a high school dance. He charms her with his cynical attitude toward the proceedings and remains in touch with her while a student at Williams College. Pursuing a career in medicine in Chicago in 1974, he reveals to Heidi that he is a homosexual and that he is involved with fellow doctor Stanley Zinc. A pediatrics resident at Bellevue in 1977, Peter earns the title of “The Best...

(This entire section contains 801 words.)

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Pediatrician in New York Under Forty” fromBoomer and becomes chief of pediatrics at New York Hospital by 1982. Concerned about the AIDS crisis, by 1987 he has started a special unit for AIDS-stricken children, using funds supplied by Susan Johnston’s production company. Although Peter and Heidi occasionally squabble, the two establish a strong friendship over the years. In 1988, he helps Heidi adopt Judy.

Lisa Friedlander

Lisa Friedlander, an award-winning illustrator of children’s books. Married to Scoop, she is happy to stay at home and care for their children but is distressed by her husband’s infidelity.


Denise, Lisa’s younger sister, who works for the talk show Hello New York from 1980 to 1982. Heidi, Scoop, and Peter appear on the show as a cross section of baby boomers. By 1984, she is a story editor for Susan.




Fran, and

Becky Groves

Becky Groves, women who attended a meeting of the Huron Street Ann Arbor Consciousness Raising Rap Group in 1970. Jill is a forty-year-old wife and mother, Fran is a thirty-year-old lesbian physicist, and Becky Groves is a seventeen-year-old newcomer who is unhappy with her demanding live-in boyfriend.

April Lambert

April Lambert, the hostess of Hello New York. She is married to David Lambert, who owns sixty buildings in Manhattan in 1982.


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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 710

Denise Friedlander Denise is Lisa’s sister. She works as a production assistant on a show called Hello, New York. Susan Johnston hires her as her assistant when she becomes a Hollywood executive.

Lisa Friedlander Lisa Freidlander marries Scoop Rosenbaum and works as an illustrator of children’s books. She accepts the role of housewife and mother to Scoop’s children. She is always cheery and sweet, despite the fact that her husband is cheating on her. She and Scoop have two children, Maggie and Pierre.

Heidi Holland Heidi is the woman around whom The Heidi Chronicles is constructed. Over the course of the play, episodes of Heidi’s life are depicted, from the 1960s to the 1980s, from ages 16 to 40. As an adult, she is an art historian; it is through a series of art lectures that her story unfolds. Two of her lectures describe overlooked female artists who remained on the periphery of the art world, artists whose works are notable for their observational nature.

Like the artists she describes, Heidi is often a spectator in her own world. As the play advances chronologically, she becomes increasingly disillusioned with her role in the world. She also becomes disenchanted with the women’s movement, the men in her life, and her own quest for happiness; she laments her lack of identity. Despite attaining independence and professional distinction she finds her life empty. At the end of the play, she hopes to find fulfillment when she adopts a baby from Panama.

Huron Street Ann Arbor Women’s Consciousness-raising Rap Group This women’s group includes Jill, a housewife with four children; Fran, a lesbian physicist friend of Susan’s; and Becky Groves, a seventeen-yearold high school student who live with an abusive boyfriend. The group is influential in Heidi’s emergence as a feminist.

Susan Johnston Susan is Heidi’s best female friend. She changes careers and political leanings as the times dictate. She goes to law school only to quit a Supreme Court clerkship to move to a woman’s collective in Montana. She then goes to business school, ostensibly for the collective, but, upon graduation, is offered a job in Hollywood as an executive for a new production company that wants to target a young, female audience. She rationalizes that she is taking the job for the good of all women, so that someone who isn’t sensitive to women’s issues won’t take the job. Yet she turns into a stereotypical dealmaker, bent on greed and power. She turns a lunch in which Heidi wants to talk about personal matters into a business deal.

April Lambert April hosts Hello, New York, the show on which Peter, Scoop, and Heidi appear to talk about their generation. She is married to an important real estate magnet, David Lambert, with whom Scoop wants to do business.

Peter Patrone Peter is one of Heidi’s best friends, a caustic cynic. He meets her at a high school dance and is impressed by her boredom. Over the course of the play, Peter reveals to Heidi that he is homosexual. Following college, he becomes a successful pediatrician living in New York City. When Heidi complains about her unhappiness, he tells her that he is tired of his friends dying of AIDS and that her boredom and discontent are luxuries. When she announces her intentions to leave New York City, Peter talks Heidi into to staying for him.

Scoop Rosenbaum Scoop Rosenbaum is another friend of Heidi’s and her former lover. They first meet at a political fundraiser for Eugene McCarthy. From the beginning, he is arrogant, glib, and self-assured, though not without charm. He is Heidi’s intellectual equal. He has a habit of grading or assigning points to everything, from cookies to songs to experiences.

Scoop works primarily as a journalist, starting his own newspaper after dropping out of Princeton. He briefly becomes a lawyer before starting a magazine targeted at Baby Boomers titled Boomer. Scoop marries Lisa, who he knows will stay home, have his children, and be a devoted wife—he cheats on her while she is pregnant. Though she is essentially his soul mate, he does not marry Heidi because she would compete with and challenge him.




Critical Essays