Regina Giddens, a conniving and grasping woman. Eager for her share in the profits of a proposed cotton mill, she contrives to get her fatally ill husband, Horace, home from the hospital to be worked on by her family to supply her share of the needed investment. When he refuses to have anything to do with the project, she cruelly taunts him with her contempt and refuses him his medicine when he feels the onset of a fatal attack.
Oscar Hubbard, Regina Giddens’ conniving and grasping brothers. Lacking Regina’s share of the investment needed for the construction of the cotton mill, they descend on the fatally ill Horace Giddens in an attempt to persuade him to put up the money. When he refuses to have anything to do with the venture, they “borrow” his bonds and go off to complete the deal.
Horace Giddens, Regina Giddens’ honest, fatally ill husband. Sick of his scheming wife and her grasping family, he refuses to invest in the projected cotton mill. When he learns of the theft of his bonds by Benjamin and Oscar Hubbard, he ties Regina’s hands by planning a will that makes her the beneficiary of the bonds. He dies when she deprives him of his medicine.
Alexandra, the daughter of Regina and Horace Giddens. Sickened by the treatment given her father by her mother and her uncles, she leaves Regina and the Hubbards after Horace’s death.
Birdie Hubbard, Oscar Hubbard’s wife, who longs for a return to the refinements of a bygone day.
Leo Hubbard, Oscar Hubbard’s son, an ally in the theft of Horace Giddens’ bonds.
Addie is the Hubbards's black maid and Alexandra Hubbard's nanny; she has a keen sense of justice and she tries to protect Alexandra from the rapacity of the Hubbard family. She considers Ben, Oscar, Regina, and Leo a scourge on humanity, 1 'eaters of the earth,'' and she scorns those who are too feeble or too uncommitted to stand up to them, saying: "Well, there are people who eat the earth and eat all the people on it.... Then there are people who stand around and watch them eat it.... Sometimes ] think it ain't right to stand and watch them do it," She herself lacks the social status to fight them effectively. Her comments serve as a moral compass for the audience.
See Benjamin Hubbard
Cal is a slightly bumbling and mild-mannered black servant who very indirectly protests Oscar's monopolization of the area's hunting rights by offhandedly mentioning how his friends would "give anything for a little piece of that meat."
Seventeen-year-old Alexandra Giddens, or Zan, adores her father Horace Giddens and her Aunt Birdie but mistrusts and, by the end of the play, actively dislikes her mother, Regina. Addie has protected Zan from her family, allowing youthful idealism to carry Zan along, but Horace wants her to "learn to hate and fear"—the Hubbard way of life—so that she will get away from them. She grows up suddenly after Horace's murder, but it remains unclear in what way she will fulfill her promise to "be fighting ... some place where people don't just stand around and watch."
Horace Giddens, Regina's husband, is a man of moral conviction who lacks the physical and emotional fortitude to honor his conviction by fighting the Hubbards. Instead he takes refuge in a Baltimore hospital, nursing a heart ailment and "thinking about" about his unhappy life with Regina. Alexandra fetches him home for his final showdown, wherein he shows some mettle in his elaborate scheme to obstruct Regina's access to his money; nevertheless, when Regina strips away that last shred of his defenses by admitting that she married him only for money, has always held him in contempt, and cannot wait until he dies, the shock kills him. He dies having done...
(The entire section contains 1394 words.)
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