The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Caroline sets the novel in motion. Had Ben not arranged an exhibition of her works, he would not have asked Anne to write the catalog; hence, Anne would not have hired Laura.

Laura is the catalyst for Anne’s religious development, while her strangeness lends interest to the novel. Her physical appearance is significant, as it is one reason for her mother’s rejection. While not unattractively large, Laura is tall, with a sturdy bone structure. Her hair is red, her eyes blue, and her complexion fair. Laura’s mother, in contrast, is dark and petite. Moreover, Laura has a sister who is a replica of her mother and who thus has received all the mother’s attention and affection.

Anne, the protagonist, is the one character who develops to any extent. A woman who considers religion unnecessary and somewhat disquieting, she becomes marginally aware of this missing element in her life through her contacts with Laura and Jane Watson. After Laura’s death, she realizes that there is something higher than the material world and her children. In addition, she develops as a mother by letting her children experience tragedy instead of trying to protect them. Like Laura’s, Anne’s looks are important, for she too is tall, red-haired, and blue-eyed. Coincidentally, she is thirty-eight, the same age as Laura’s mother. Anne’s age and their similarity in appearance probably contribute to Laura’s love for her employer.

Jane exemplifies...

(The entire section is 541 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Laura Post

Laura Post, the dangerously neurotic twenty-two-year-old nanny to the two Foster children. Born to a mother who disliked her from her birth, Laura has spent her short life seeking love. Her mother’s withering contempt for Laura and undisguised pleasure in Laura’s sister have left Laura emotionally crippled, unable to recognize love or to give it. In her late adolescence, Laura turned to religion and came to believe that she had been visited by the Holy Spirit. She now believes that the Spirit directs her every move and that it has sent her to the house of Anne Foster. In her constant Bible reading, Laura sees God only as a power of wrath and destruction.

Anne Foster

Anne Foster, who in her late thirties is a deeply loving mother to her two children and is deeply in love with her husband. She also is driven by her desire to use her intellect and her knowledge of art history. While her husband spends an academic term in France, Anne works at preparing a catalog for a major showing of the paintings of Caroline Watson. The project requires her to hire a live-in baby-sitter. She employs Laura even though she dislikes her (and dislikes herself for feeling that dislike). Like Laura, Anne was born to a mother who preferred her sister, but with the aid of her father’s love she has emerged as a joyous, loving woman whose lack of self-confidence is masked by her strong intelligence. Anne is interested in the career of...

(The entire section is 603 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The tension throughout Men and Angels is focused on the conflict between Anne Foster, the mother of two young children, and Laura...

(The entire section is 429 words.)