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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1308

Agnes is described as a ‘‘middle-aged woman, very neat, very tense, very tired.’’ According to the author, Agnes is someone who has ‘‘tried all her life to do the right thing, and the attempt has made her unsure of herself.’’ She is Felicity’s oldest daughter and her only surviving child. She shares with the interviewer that she suffers from psychosomatic headaches. They are so much a part of her that she has trouble recognizing them unless they have ‘‘gone away.’’ Living in the shadow of her deceased sister, Claire, it appears that Agnes is consumed with pleasing her mother, with caring for her adequately during her illness, despite ongoing abuse from her mother, and the disruption Felicity’s illness creates in her life. When asked about her sister or her mother, Agnes has little difficulty in relaying all of the details of their lives. But when asked what she will do when her mother dies, she looks at the interviewer in silence. Agnes also admits that after one of her mother’s hospital stays, she wrote a letter in response to her mother’s own letter, posing as Claire. She has continually written such letters, claiming that it gives her mother hope, that ‘‘it makes her happy.’’ But when the interviewer asks Agnes what ‘‘makes her happy,’’ she is startled and immediately redirects the focus back to her mother’s condition.

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Beverly is a surprise guest at Cottage Two, and much to Mark’s dismay, she is his lover Brian’s colorful ex-wife. Beverly is a world traveler, an adventurer, and a bit of a drunk. She enters the cottage in an expensive, though soiled and torn, evening dress decorated with ‘‘bits of jewelry’’ and hidden by a ‘‘yellow slicker raincoat and rubber boots.’’ Despite her physical attractiveness, she has a rather bawdy sense of humor and throughout the play can be observed swigging from a gin bottle strategically placed in her purse. What makes Beverly an endearing character is her ability to be brutally honest or frank, yet at the same time interject humor into an otherwise grave situation. She is able to illuminate the reality of Brian’s disease both to the patient and to his lover, appeasing or comforting one while alienating the other. Her ability to see Mark’s true character is also apparent. She reminds Mark that Brian needs him.

Brian is the second terminally ill patient, introduced in the work as ‘‘a graceful man . . . simple, direct, straightforward,’’ who ‘‘possesses an agile mind and a childlike joy about life.’’ Of all of the characters, Brian seems to have taken considerably more time to ponder his life for the sake of productivity— his past relationships, his accomplishments, his hopes and dreams unfulfilled, as well as what it means to be dying. During a conversation with his ex-wife, when asked about his newfound interest in writing, Brian says, ‘‘I realized that there was a lot to do that I hadn’t done yet. So I figured I better . . . start working.’’ For Brian, ‘‘working’’ means liquidating or selling off all of his personal assets and burying the money in a sock on Staten Island, visiting Passaic, New Jersey, just to go, or writing an endless stream of literature. Besides being a dreamer of sorts, Brian is the philosophical voice of the work. He is resolved to forgive and forget the fact that his ex-wife walked out on him. Brian has come to terms with his past, and in doing so, his universe has opened up.

Described as being sixty or seventy and wheelchair bound, Felicity is surprisingly feisty, if not somewhat senile, and openly hostile to both the interviewer and her daughter Agnes. She refers to the interviewer as ‘‘you and your people’’ who’ve ‘‘all come to look at the dead people.’’...

(The entire section contains 1308 words.)

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Critical Essays