Professor August Howe
Professor August Howe, an archaeologist. A serious scientist, he is methodical, organized, industrious, and idealistic. At forty years of age, he is the leader of an archaeological expedition in the hills of southern Illinois that is about to unearth significant remnants of ancient Indian civilization. Accustomed to quietly maintaining control, he creates the play’s narrative framework by flashing slides on a screen and dictating instructions to his secretary, thus permitting flashbacks to the sequence of events from the previous summer in which he plays a major role. His consuming involvement in this work prevents him from attending to a disintegrating marriage, which fails even as his professional dreams do. He nurtures the belief that his work is more important than the livelihood of the landowners of the site and is stunned when that site is brutally destroyed; the play concludes with him wordless and directionless.
Cynthia Howe, his thirty-five-year-old wife, a photographer. The characters of Cynthia and of Jean Loggins are not as fully drawn as those of their husbands. What emerges in Cynthia is a woman who is physically cold toward her husband but who remains a helpmate in his research, documenting his excavations with her photographs. Her passions and preoccupations are drawn to the dangerous, hot-headed, younger Chad Jasker. Although Chad seems to have lost some interest in his affair with her, her loyalty to him is so strong that, after Chad has bulldozed the excavation site, she is motivated to destroy the last vestige of her husband’s research project—the undeveloped roll of pictures in her camera.
D. K. (Delia) Eriksen
D. K. (Delia) Eriksen, Howe’s sister, thirty-eight years old. She is an invalid and a...
(The entire section is 756 words.)