List of Characters

Clara Philips Curtis—Edward Curtis’s wife, Hercules’s sister.

Amelia Philips—Clara’s mother.

Hercules Philips—Clara’s younger brother.

Edward Curtis—Clara’s husband, a famed photographer.

Ellen Sheriff Curtis—Edward’s mother.

Johnson Curtis—Edward’s father.

Asahel Curtis—Edward’s brother.

Eva Curtis—Edward’s spoiled and selfish sister.

Harold, Beth, Florence, and Katherine Curtis    —Edward and Clara’s children.

Marianne Wiggins—the author as a character in the story.

John F. Wiggins—Marianne’s father.

Mary Wiggins—Marianne’s mother.

JJ—Marianne’s sister.

J. P. Morgan—a banker and philanthropist who financed some of Curtis’s photographic expeditions (he is mentioned several times but never makes an appearance in the story).

Theodore Roosevelt—a former president who appears in photographs Curtis was commissioned to take at the wedding of Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.

Emily Rosen—a nurse in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Las Vegas.

Mr. Lodz—a neighbor in St. Paul who helps Clara and Hercules after their parents die.

Modoc and Mopoc—Native American men who do odd jobs for Edward on the family compound outside of Seattle.

Mr. Rothi—Edward’s partner when he opens his first studio.

Curtis “Johnny” Edwards—an African-American man who has had a heart attack.

Colonel Curtis Edwards, Jr.—Curtis Edwards’s son.

Lester Owns-His-Shadow—a Native American man.

Clarita Mendoza—the landlady of Curtis Edwards’s house.

Tio Rico—Clarita’s uncle and Edward Curtis’s lover.

Character Analysis

If there is a central figure in The Shadow Catcher, it is Clara Curtis, Edward’s wife. Much of the story about Edward and his family is seen through her experiences. Readers gain a glimpse of Clara’s life while she is still living at home with her parents. She is a well-adjusted, independent young woman. Her parents’ artistic influence provides the creative intelligence that she will need later in life to imagine a love affair with Edward. Where Clara differs from her parents is in her practical intelligence. Clara’s parents left their children destitute; they enjoyed life but did little to ensure that their bills would be paid. When Clara raises a family, she is the realistic and sensible member, balancing her husband’s reckless tendencies. Clara is mature enough to raise her brother well and to care for Edward’s relatives. Neither Edward’s mother nor his sister demonstrates any business sense or any ability to provide food for the table. Clara, on the other hand, knows what she wants and goes after it, just as she went after Edward.

Edward Curtis was raised in the wilderness by his uncultured father. He grew up without a mother’s love and guidance. He finds comfort in open nature and is completely disoriented within the confines of family and home. But Edward knows a good thing when he sees it. Clara was educated in a way that Edward was not, and she inspires him with her thoughts and insights. He quickly understands that Clara will help him achieve his dreams. However, he invests little time or energy in finding out what Clara’s dreams are. Edward is a man with a single focus: he wants to improve himself and his art, no matter the cost.

As a character in the novel, Marianne is a strong but somewhat distracted woman who tends to get tangled up in the details of her life. She flits around in the story, which opens with her being late for an important meeting with a film producer. She then rambles about the landscape around her, trying as always to fit all the pieces together into her imagined puzzle of life. When she receives the phone call from the hospital in Las Vegas, she drops everything despite the fact that she does not believe that the man in the hospital is her father. She then meets a Native American man, whom she thinks about in a fairly stereotypical manner (as a “great sage”), and runs about trying to solve everyone’s life mysteries except for her own. In the end, Marianne does conclude that the truth of a person’s life cannot be fully known, leaving the reader to wonder if this will end her attempts at trying to put together all the pieces.