Coverly Wapshot, who is younger and seemingly less agreeable and promising than his brother Moses. He is also “a model of provincial virtues” and as such seems both naïve and strangely noble. He is twenty-eight years old and lives in Talifer with his wife and son. Although trained as a computer taper, he has been assigned to the public relations department at the Talifer missile site and research center. When his marriage begins to sour, he develops the habit of “talking like a Chinese fortune cookie” and pretending that nothing unpleasant has happened. Wanting to be useful as a husband, father, and worker, he is repeatedly made to feel helpless and inconsequential. Despite the blows to his fragile sense of self-esteem, he remains both hopeful and dutiful to the end.
Betsey Wapshot, Coverly’s wife, who holds in her hands the raw material of his dreams. In unfriendly Talifer, the dark side of her personality emerges. As marriage to this “moon goddess” with her irreconcilable faces turns into a battleground, Coverly adopts the posture of a losing sexual combatant and Betsey seizes on every crumb of self-esteem that he drops.
Moses Wapshot, Coverly’s older brother. Now in his early thirties, he works for a shady brokerage house and lives in affluent Proxmire Manor. When his aunt Honora’s monthly stipend stops, Moses, deeply in debt, departs on a frantic and unsuccessful effort to raise cash. His absence is the proximate cause...
(The entire section is 640 words.)