Characters

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 370

Many of the characters from Gilchrist's earlier short stories reappear in this collection: Nora Jane Whittington, Amanda McCamey, Traceleen, and especially Rhoda Manning. Although they have aged, all are remarkably consistent with their previous appearances. Several of the stories in Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle virtually recast previous...

(The entire section contains 370 words.)

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Many of the characters from Gilchrist's earlier short stories reappear in this collection: Nora Jane Whittington, Amanda McCamey, Traceleen, and especially Rhoda Manning. Although they have aged, all are remarkably consistent with their previous appearances. Several of the stories in Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle virtually recast previous stories in a more optimistic light. In "The Song of Songs," Barrett Clare, the child who was born to Amanda McCamey and put up for adoption in The Annunciation (1983), discovers her true mother's identity and reunites with Amanda on Christmas Day. This reunion clearly affects the tone of The Annunciation because the separation of mother and child loses its finality. In Gilchrist's world coincidences abound, not the least of which is that Barrett realizes she was earlier introduced to Amanda without recognizing her as her mother. Nora Jane Whittington, who in "The Famous Poll in Jody's Bar" was last seen arriving in San Francisco in search of the father of her unborn child, reappears in "The Starlight Express." Now seven months pregnant with twin girls and abandoned by her boyfriend Sandy, Nora Jane takes a train north to visit Freddy Harwood, another previous Gilchrist character. Soon after Nora Jane reaches Freddy's isolated house "deep in the woods" of Northern California she gives birth to her daughters just before a helicopter rescue team arrives to transport her to the hospital. Freddy and Nora Jane may be on the verge of an enduring relationship, and the bond between Nora Jane and her twins, Tammili and Lydia, is already strong.

Perhaps the most promising addition to Gilchrist's gallery of characters is Lin Tan Sing, a Chinese medical student and research biologist studying at the University of California. Lin Tan, who appears in "The Starlight Express" as well as the title story, is an intelligent young scientist whose kindness and serenity seem boundless. His Chinese background as well as his quirky, delightful speech patterns constantly remind us that he comes from a very different culture, but what he shares with Gilchrist's American characters is more important that what sets him apart. Lin Tan's professional interest and personal fascination focuses on the origins of human life, in the emergence of "the miraculous brain of man."

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