Calvin Stuart Talley
Calvin Stuart Talley, the eighty-year-old patriarch of the Talley family. He is dazed and confused most of the time, but he has flashes of lucidity, during which he asserts his power over Eldon and Lottie, his children, who hate him. As far as Calvin is concerned, the only one of his children who was ever worth anything was Stuart, who has been dead for more than twenty-five years. Calvin is a shrewd and ruthless businessman. He keeps his records locked away and written in code so he will retain control. When a scandal over Eldon’s adultery threatens to erupt, Talley manipulates the people involved with no regard for them; his only concern is protecting the family name because of the reflection on the family business. In the end, he loses control to Eldon and slips back into a confused state.
Eldon Talley, Calvin Talley’s fifty-two-year-old son. Eldon has always been under his father’s thumb at work and has been an irresponsible and adulterous man in his private life. Recently, he has been sneaking into his father’s office to go through his papers, and he is pleased to see that the family is wealthier than he imagined. He is also excited because his older son, Buddy, is home from the war for a few days, and his younger son, Timmy, is expected soon. He receives a telegram saying that Timmy has been killed, and the local washerwoman demands support for her child by Eldon. As his frustration intensifies and he and his father become angrier toward each other, he decides to take control of his life. He outsmarts his father and makes a business deal that...
(The entire section is 669 words.)