Last Updated on May 13, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 672
Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander
Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander, a typical but especially pretty and popular girl at the high school in Bradleyville, Texas. Although Lu Ann later becomes a hairdresser, as a teenager, she hates school and cannot wait to get out of school and preferably out of the state. She has no concrete plans for marriage or a career, however, and is mainly interested in having fun. After her brother, Skip Hampton, introduces her to his army buddy Dale Laverty, Lu Ann marries him, hoping for a more exciting life. They move to San Angelo and then to Snyder, but then she is left alone in their trailer house for weeks at a time while he is out on the road. After Dale leaves Lu Ann and their daughter, Charmaine, Lu Ann moves back to Bradleyville to live with her mother. She works as a hairdresser until she meets Corky in Red Grover’s bar. They are married only a short time before Corky is killed in an accident, leaving Lu Ann a widow in her late thirties. She ends up once again living in her mother’s house but now cares for her invalid mother, despite others’ suggestions that the old woman be put in a hospital. Driving a Howdy Wagon in Big Spring, Lu Ann dwells on her happier past but exhibits no self-pity or regrets.
Skip Hampton, Lu Ann’s older brother, a gas station attendant and veteran of the Korean War. Despite the fact that Skip never got closer than sixty miles to the front, he boasts about his bravery in battle. Always looking for an easy and quick way to become rich as a young man, Skip spends much of his time drinking. He never marries and lives with his mother and his sister. Skip attempts suicide by cutting his throat with a broken beer bottle in Red Grover’s bar. At the age of forty-four, he is already a gray-haired, shaky man, one whom Lu Ann cannot trust with pocket money for fear he will spend it on alcohol.
Billy Bob Wortman
Billy Bob Wortman, Lu Ann’s high school boyfriend, later a successful preacher in Kansas City. Tall and lanky, Billy Bob was a star on the high school basketball team but discovered that he was not good enough to play in college. Billy Bob is devoutly religious and a bit too straitlaced for Lu Ann. He visits Lu Ann and her mother in 1973.
Dale Laverty, a truck driver, Lu Ann’s first husband and the father of Charmaine Laverty. Dale served with Skip in the Korean War. His goal is to drive a truck, find a wife, and live in a house trailer so that he can feel free to move at any time. When he comes home drunk one night, Lu Ann throws him out, and he never comes back.
Corky Oberlander, a surveyor for the highway department. As part of his position, Corky inspects dirt, a job he takes very seriously. He picks up Lu Ann at Red Grover’s bar and later becomes her second husband. He is killed in a collision between his truck and a road machine.
Claudine Hampton, a practical nurse, Lu Ann and Skip’s mother. In the first act, she is a heavyset woman in her early forties, and her hair is grayish blonde; by the third act, it is totally white. She frequently warns Lu Ann that her high school days will be the happiest years of her life. She worries about Lu Ann’s lack of plans for the future, but she worries more about Skip’s drinking. During the final act, Claudine is a stroke victim, paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair, and unable to speak. She is patiently cared for at home by Lu Ann.
Charmaine Laverty, the daughter of Lu Ann and her first husband, Dale Laverty. Spoiled and shallow, she is disrespectful to her mother and her uncle.