Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The Grandfather

The Grandfather, who, like the prophets in the works of Homer and Sophocles, is blind but sees the truth more clearly than the younger people around him. He says exactly what he discerns. His persistent questions about who is in the garden and the sitting room or why the lamp burns less brightly and his accusations that his family is keeping important information from him show him to be, despite his frailty from living nearly eighty years, a seeker of truth on all levels—rational, emotional, and intuitive. The Father remembers that before he became blind he was as reasonable as the others and “never said anything extraordinary.” The Father blames Ursula, the eldest daughter, for encouraging The Grandfather too much by answering all of his questions.

The Father

The Father, who only once is called Paul by The Grandfather. He is worried about his sickly wife and wishes that his eldest sister, a nun who never arrives, would appear and end his anxious waiting. He is worn out from his wife’s childbirth and subsequent illness. At one point, he even blames the child for her difficulties, although his ever reasonable brother points out that it is not the little boy’s fault. He becomes irritated by his father-in-law’s questions and anxieties, sometimes suggesting to The Uncle that The Grandfather is insane. The Father represents the patriarchal voice of reason that has little time for emotions and intuitions. The fulfillment of The Grandfather’s premonitions reflects how limited The Father’s viewpoint really is.

The Uncle

The Uncle, who only once is called Oliver by The Grandfather. He appears to be an urban man, a bit uneasy in the rural environment...

(The entire section is 716 words.)