Even though Oscar is not alive in the novel, he is very much present and is an active force that in large measure shapes the contents and lives of the characters. During his life, Oscar made fame and fortune through his artwork, which centered on painting the female nude. While being loved in the art world, he shunned many of its trends and standards, remaining aloof from the praise he received for his work. His love for women drove him to a womanizing lifestyle; in addition to a wife and a steady mistress, Oscar had numerous affairs with the women he painted. He was passionate, impulsive, and selfish but was greatly loved by the women in his life.
Oscar’s wife of decades, Abigail spent most of her life caring for their only child, Ethan, who was severely autistic. Abigail was aware of Oscar’s mistress and infidelity and took it in stride; she loved Oscar with a steady, uncompromising strength that kept their marriage together through the years. Her patient and calm personality was a good match for Oscar’s impetuous one and also for raising their son. With the exception of one affair herself, she remained true and faithful to Oscar.
Claire “Teddy” St. Cloud
Teddy was Oscar’s mistress for much of his life. She was undemanding of Oscar and allowed him to live his life and come and go as he pleased. She is fiercely independent, passionate, and opinionated. Teddy always puts forth a strong front, claiming indifference to her life as a mistress, but later in life she admits that every woman wants legitimacy and that she envied that in Oscar’s wife. Despite that envy, Teddy manages to forge a path for herself, make her own choices, and refuse to be beholden to anyone.
Oscar’s sister, Maxine, is a renowned artist in her own right, painting abstract images that earned her fame. She remains an active, avid, and extremely...
(The entire section is 815 words.)