Characters Discussed

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John Donner

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John Donner, a prolific author who has written a book about his hometown of Unionville, which is now under the water of Lake Kronos. Donner returns to visit the relocated graveyards holding the bodies of his family: the Donners, the Morgans, and the Scarletts. Perhaps he is secretly trying to find a resting place for himself, perhaps he is trying to go home again, and perhaps he is trying to penetrate the murky waters of memory and find his past.

Elijah S. Morgan

Elijah S. Morgan, Donner’s grandfather, a pastor, a Union supporter, and the father of Aunt Jessie and John’s father, Harry.

Great-Grandfather Scarlett

Great-Grandfather Scarlett, who had helped to name Unionville. This captain in the War of 1812 was a squire, a legislator, and an “oil inspector.” He has a 20-foot marble monument and a plot numbered 732.

Great Aunt Teresa

Great Aunt Teresa, a teacher who has celebrated both Grandfather Morgan and Great-Grandfather Scarlett in poems, many of which were printed in The Unionville Herald and the Lutheran Messenger. She is in her last years when John returns to Unionville. John remembers how she had fled her home whenever she could. She invites John inside the home, whereas his Aunt Jessie did not.

The Reverend Harry A. Donner

The Reverend Harry A. Donner, John’s father, the only father in town who kisses his boys and loves to sing. John, now an old man, finds his thirty-five-year-old father just after Harry has given up his store and just before he studies for the ministry.

Valerie M. Donner

Valerie M. Donner, John’s mother. John searches for her in Unionville but does not find her before the guard comes for him.

The horse and driver

The horse and driver, who are carrying a cargo of coal from beneath the waters and heading toward Unionville. The mysterious driver allows John to accompany him on his trip.

Aunt Jessie Morgan Ryon

Aunt Jessie Morgan Ryon, John’s lame aunt, who does not recognize him when he returns as an old man to the long-submerged Unionville. She was once a pianist and a singer.

Uncle Dick Ryon

Uncle Dick Ryon, Aunt Jessie’s Irish husband who, when he worked, was a railroad conductor.

Palmyra Morgan

Palmyra Morgan, the wife of Elijah Morgan and the daughter of Postmaster Williams.

Griff Flail’s wife and four children

Griff Flail’s wife and four children, whom John warns to leave the house before they are killed by Griff.

Joe Heisler

Joe Heisler, the barber who helps John to look presentable.


Mike, the horse at the stable. Mike is the only character who recognizes John.

Morris Strike

Morris Strike, the groomer who curries Mike. He makes the statement that people keep looking for others who cannot come around to them; this message relates well to John.

Mrs. Bonawitz

Mrs. Bonawitz, who takes John into her home when he collapses.


Johnny, the boy whom John recognizes as himself as a child. John realizes that the fear that Johnny faces actually is a sense of dread of the other, older self to come.


Guard, who comes for John at the end of the book.


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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 109

Barnes, Robert J. Conrad Richter. Austin, Tex.: Steck-Vaughn, 1968.

Carpenter, Frederic I. “Conrad Richter’s Pioneers: Reality and Myth.” College English 12 (1950): 77-84.

Cowan, William. “Delaware Vocabulary in the Works of Conrad Richter.” In Papers of the Twenty-ninth Algonquian Conference, edited by David H. Pentland. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1998.

Edwards, Clifford D. Conrad Richter’s Ohio Trilogy. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton, 1970.

Flanagan, John T. “Conrad Richter: Romancer of the Southwest.” Southwest Review 43 (1958): 189-196.

Gaston, Edwin W., Jr. Conrad Richter. Rev. ed. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1989.

Johnson, David R. Conrad Richter: A Writer’s Life. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2001.

Kohler, Dayton. “Conrad Richter’s Early Americana.” College English 7 (1947): 221-228.

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