Patience White, a single twenty-eight-year-old who aspires to be a painter. The house she shares with her brother and his family is half hers. She does all the necessary household chores and has no desire to marry. The daily example of Edward and Martha gives her little reason to be idealistic about marriage. Her paintings often involve stories of transformation. When she meets Sarah, who confesses her love, Patience discovers her purpose in life. Her love transforms her, making it possible to be kind even to Martha. Her love also frightens her as others learn of it; she has learned well to be concerned about appearances. That concern makes her answer no to Sarah when Sarah asks in front of Pa Dowling and Edward if Patience is still willing to go with her. Given time to reflect, she realizes that nothing would be worse than losing Sarah, so when Sarah returns, Patience becomes the force that pushes their dream to become real. Though shy, she has a strong experimental nature and a boldness many miss because of her feminine style.
Sarah Dowling, who is twenty-one years old. She is practical, hardworking, and strong like her father. Her silent independence belies her great depth of feeling, which is mixed with an ability to take risks, as she does by confessing her love to Patience. She is honest to the point of endangering her relationship with Patience by speaking openly of it, and she is forgiving, even of her father, who beats her to keep her from Patience. When Patience refuses to leave with her, her pain takes her on the road alone, disguised as a man named Sam. Her openness brings her the aid of at least one farmer’s daughter and of Parson Peel. She returns less sure of her ability to make things happen and with more understanding of the limits the...
(The entire section is 750 words.)