Norman Dewers, an assistant librarian. With his scruffy beard, shapeless cap, and ill-fitting suit, Norman always appears slightly unkempt. Convention fits Norman no better than do his clothes. He possesses a wry sense of humor, a benign indifference to the restrictions of work and marriage, and a well-earned reputation for causing trouble, though the problems created by Norman are never the result of malice. Norman truly believes his oft-repeated claim that he is only trying to make people happy. Moreover, Norman is capable of being witty, charming, and attentive. He fails, however, to see that his boundless desire to be loved (as well as his belief that any woman is a potential conquest) can cause friction when he must deal with those who possess more conventional attitudes about fidelity and happiness.
Ruth Dewers, Norman’s wife. Ruth is a businesswoman whose career takes priority in her life. Ruth’s greatest concern during the weekend in which the play takes place is not Norman’s infidelity per se but rather the amount of time that it is taking her away from her work. Ruth can, however, display genuine affection for Norman. She loves him, although the five years of their marriage have left her with few illusions about Norman’s ability to be faithful. She no longer expects loyalty from Norman and has long since ceased to be concerned by his indiscretions. Ruth has chosen not to have children. This decision, coupled with her caustic wit, has created tension between her and the other members of her family, including her mother and her sister-in-law, Sarah. Too vain to wear her glasses, Ruth is afflicted with a constant squint, which becomes most pronounced whenever she tries to identify specific objects, even if they are fairly close to her.
Reg, Ruth’s brother, a real estate agent. In many ways, Reg is temperamentally the opposite of Ruth. He takes his career so lightly that even his wife, Sarah, wonders how he is able to make a living at it. Moreover, Reg’s sense of humor is far less...
(The entire section is 864 words.)