Alberta “Bertie” Johnson
Alberta “Bertie” Johnson, a retired teacher and Herb’s recent widow, a white, middle-aged perfectionist who initially keeps her husband’s death secret because she cannot yet deal with letting go of Herb. An isolationist, Alberta is lonely and talks to herself for company. Precise and proper, she is at first taken aback by Deedee’s spontaneity and is reluctant to accept help from or be close to Deedee. Bertie also is a caring person and extends herself to help Deedee with issues ranging from getting change for the machines to dealing with her unfaithful husband. Her approach to her world is predominantly logical.
Deedee Johnson, Joe’s lonely wife, who addresses envelopes for a secret income and wants to be liked but sees herself as essentially inadequate. In fact, Deedee sabotages her own competence by her impulsive behaviors; she is frequently unprepared for her own actions or for others’ reactions to her. Deedee believes that she lacks intelligence. A chocolate lover who belittles herself for responding to her world emotionally, Deedee has tolerated a violent, racist, and unfaithful husband because she needs to be with someone and he has been there for her. Deedee displays both independent thought and independent action in her final exchanges with Alberta in the laundry.