The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

A number of characters play key roles in Independence Day, and reader perceptions of them are shaped primarily by Frank Bascombe’s point of view, which dominates the novel. To that extent, the perceptions Frank conveys of others are as much an index to his own character as to their individual identities.

Frank is a complex and enigmatic person. He loves his two children and stills feels strong emotions for his ex-wife even though they have grown estranged from each other. The ordeal of his past—which includes the death of his son, the break up of his family, and the aimless drift of his professional life—seems to have endowed him with wisdom and understanding that others in his life lack. He invites reader sympathy and beguiles with his calm, assuring manner as he smoothly conducts business and navigates the obstacles his awkward family situation puts before him. Yet Frank’s behavior sometimes contradicts the principles of self-reliance and independence that he promotes. He mildly embellishes the truth about his personal life to the Markhams as part of his tactics to sell them a house that he believes will be right for them. Moreover, he is not completely honest with himself about his feelings. Although he professes to be aloof from the emotions that troubled his past, he is bitter about Ann’s remarriage and unable to accept the exclusion from her life this suggests. In one of the novel’s most poignant moments, Frank chances upon a used copy of his one published book at the inn at which he and Paul stay...

(The entire section is 627 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Frank Bascombe, the narrator of The Sportswriter, is again the main character, this time several years after the conclusion of the...

(The entire section is 483 words.)