Passing On Characters
by Penelope Lively

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Helen Glover

Helen Glover, a part-time librarian in her early fifties. She recalls events of her life. Following several brief attempts to leave Long Sydenham in her twenties, Helen returned to live with her mother and brother in her mother’s house. Helen, an attractive woman, has been subjected to a lifetime of demeaning comments from her mother, Dorothy. She has never cultivated her beauty or attempted to change the disheveled condition of her home. Although she resents her mother’s manipulation, Helen lacks the willpower to assert her independence.

Dorothy Glover

Dorothy Glover, who is dead when the narration begins but a dominating presence for much of the novel. Her aggressive, malevolent personality controls her adult children’s thoughts even in matters as simple as choice of dress.

Edward Glover

Edward Glover, Helen’s younger brother, a teacher in a mediocre private school for girls. A lover of nature, Edward devotes much of his spare time to participating in environmental projects and observing the ecology of the Britches, a small piece of woodland owned by the Glovers. Despite his interest in animals, Edward remains purposefully vague about human beings and represses much of his own nature in an effort to avoid acknowledging his homosexuality.

Louise Glover Dyson

Louise Glover Dyson, Helen’s younger sister, a designer who lives in London with her husband and two children. The only sibling to have left Long Sydenham, Louise demonstrated a temper and rebellious spirit early in life. A successful businesswoman, Louise is given to emotional crises that her brother and sister follow almost as a form of entertainment. Louise sees life as a...

(The entire section is 414 words.)