Father, from the first and last scenes, the wealthy father of Snoozer. Depicted first as a young father and later as a family patriarch, he represents the established upper class. In concert with Snoozer’s godparents, he expresses class fears of Franklin Roosevelt and the impact of the Depression while enjoying a lifestyle aloof from the suffering around him. The family members swill bootlegged gin and give exotic, costly gifts while preaching responsibility to self and country from their hypocritical pulpit. In the last scene, Father officiates at the family’s traditional tennis ball toss and canoe burning, a sunset ritual that suggests the fate of his class.
Mother, Snoozer’s mother. Like her husband, she is basically insensitive to the misery of others. She is frivolous, playfully demanding that those at the post-christening party give her son his nickname. She herself comes up with “Snoozer” because the infant sleeps through a second baptism when his godmother spills her drink on him. In the final scene, she explains the family tradition to Ray, the prospective son-in-law.
Mother, from the third scene. She voices dubious concern for her child’s welfare when, after chastising the child’s nurse for inviting a male friend to her room and thereby neglecting child-tending duties, she reveals that she is planning an assignation with her lover.
Snoozer, a character alluded to often but encountered only in the final scene. Although he plays only a minor role when he actually appears, he is a reference point for many of the other characters throughout the play. He is notable only for his nickname, given to him by his mother.
Nellie, the nurse. She is polite, acquiescent, and lonely, an Irish immigrant forced to be thankful for her position. Her efforts to defend her actions are squelched by her...
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