The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Boswell rounds out the novel with friends and family of the Landises who help to define the identities and goals of Angela, Stephen, and Dulcie. Angela’s second husband, Hollywood agent Quin Vorda, is nearly as different from Stephen as a man can be. He is clean, sophisticated, and a fine dancer whose dreams are populated not with concerns about dairy cows but with plans for extravagant dinner parties. While his magnanimous personality has led him to great success managing a variety of personalities and their acting careers, his philandering has jeopardized his most important relationships. Angela’s semitolerance of Quin’s attraction to other women is ironically compared to her intolerance of Stephen’s love for the land and his commitment, sacrifice, and care for the things that live on his farm.

Murry Glenn is an appliance salesman whom Angela meets while shopping for a refrigerator. Murry has wide knowledge of appliance-manufacturing companies, and Angela enlists him in her mission to inform consumers about the dangers of the products they buy. Murry and Angela set out to write a shopper’s guide to responsible buying. Writing the book is a trial for both, and the subject’s inherent self-contradictions, inconsistencies, and idealism leave Angela feeling less than successful in her attempt to make a difference.

Stephen’s relationship with Leah Odell eventually fails for many of the same reasons that he and Angela could not stay...

(The entire section is 512 words.)