Johnny Catlett, a Virginian gentleman. From a cute boy, Johnny grows into a handsome man with curly chestnut hair. Reared in a slave-owning family in which ownership and control were taken for granted, Johnny is independent and strong-willed. Charming and courageous, he falls in love with his cousin Melinda. Because he is unwilling to commit himself, he loses her to Fish Kregg. In a fit of jealousy, he runs off to the West, where he attempts to find freedom and peace away from his dominating family. Although he attempts to shut off all of his feelings, he finds that he cannot escape from his heart or his duty and that he really is not fit for any life other than the one into which he was born. After returning to Virginia and taking over the leadership of the family after his father’s death, Johnny is isolated and exhausted, with a hidden sorrow, but he remains controlled and dependable, taking his duty seriously. Attempting to maintain control during the turbulent times at the beginning of the Civil War, Johnny wonders if he is the only one who questions but does not speak. At the end, he realizes that the luxury of questioning has passed him by and, with the start of the war, that he must once again simply do his duty.
Peregrine Lacey Catlett
Peregrine Lacey Catlett, Johnny’s father. A quiet, stern, and often bewildered man, with worried blue eyes and a light, sardonic voice, Peregrine seems fatigued and haunted by a private sadness. He regards his family as a cross he must bear. Although he is always concerned about the welfare of his slaves, as his family starts to disintegrate, he becomes frightened of losing authority and decides against freeing them. Disappointed in his eldest son, Peregrine places all the burden of the family on Johnny’s shoulders, demanding that he continue playing the role of the Southern gentleman.
Melinda Lacey Kregg
Melinda Lacey Kregg, Johnny’s cousin. A tall, thin girl with big, black eyes, smooth raven hair, and a thin, pale...
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