Tamar Cauldwell, a passionate, neurotic, auburn-haired young woman. She tempts her brother Lee to deflower her and continues incest with him until she becomes pregnant. Intending to marry Will Andrews, she seduces him, hoping to hide her incest with Lee. She fails in an attempt to burn the Cauldwell home. In a wild dance on the seashore, she brings on a miscarriage that leaves her ill and embittered at her whole family. She flaunts her body before her father to rouse his enfeebled lust. Taunting her brother with the lie that her lost child was Will’s rather than his, she angers Lee until he whips her cruelly. Feigning a desire to reconcile the differences between Lee and Will, she then shows Will the marks of the whip and instigates a bloody fight between him and Lee. Triumphant, she dies by fire, taking her lovers with her. The flames symbolically resemble the fleshly fires that have been consuming the Cauldwells since the old incest of David and Helen.
Lee Cauldwell, her dissolute brother. Nursed to health by Tamar after an accident, he warns Will to stay away from her, then becomes her lover and the father of the child she loses. Tamar prevents Lee from enlisting for World War I but also keeps him from escaping the burning Cauldwell home, and he dies in her locked embrace.
David Cauldwell, her father, a dotard of seventy who in...
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