It is clear from the detailed opening that Alexandra, in her late thirties, is the driving force behind the small coven and the focus for the author’s principal characterization. She seems to derive her power from the earthly elements, and her command of elemental forces is demonstrated by her control of a summer storm and by her “bubbies”: small clay statuettes that she sells at local boutiques. Yet Alexandra can also be moody and vain. As well as storms, her momentary whims can cause death. She alternately engages the reader’s empathy and awe with her earth-mother characteristics and engenders fear when, for example, she impulsively wills the death of a squirrel marauding in her garden. Through her own self-doubts, Alexandra demonstrates the shifting concerns of power, love, and sexuality being examined in the story.
Jane Smart, also in her late thirties, is a cellist, and that facet becomes the primary focus for her characterization. Jane is willful, hostile, and gifted; she is impatient with much save the passion for her music. Wildly decadent given the proper motivation, Jane demonstrates the self-indulgent ego that cares for little except personal gratification. It is through Jane that the reader begins to understand how power corrupts.
Sukie Rougemont, in her early thirties, is a reporter for the Eastwick Word. The reader cannot help but see Sukie in a favorable light. Alexandra’s constant comments about Sukie’s...
(The entire section is 530 words.)
Alexandra Spofford, a large, gray-blonde divorcée and mother. She and two fellow divorcées are convinced they have magic powers and explore witchcraft as a form of women’s liberation. Together they form an alliance in rebellion against the small-town conventions they believe have inhibited them. Their magic powers, however, not only have a liberating effect but also create mischief. Alexandra turns her former husband into polychrome dust and keeps him in a jar in the cupboard, and the witches raise a thunderstorm to punish some youngsters who call Alexandra a hag. Alexandra is the leader of the coven of three witches because she is the oldest and the earthiest, and she relates most strongly to nature, from which the witches believe they derive their special powers. She is also a sculptor, working in the earthy medium of clay to make figures of female sensuality she calls “bubbies.” The powers that she and the other witches develop eventually lead to mayhem and even murder. They pursue the satanic Darryl Van Horne, and when he chooses Jennifer, a younger woman, they conjure her death. Chastened and guilty, Alexandra marries an art instructor who takes her to Taos, New Mexico.
Jane Smart, the second witch. She is dark and short, and her special talent is music, especially the cello. Like her two friends, she neglects her children in favor of the powerful sisterhood of the witches, and she uses her magic powers in dubious ways. For example, she transforms her former husband into a dried herb hanging in the cellar. In addition, she and the other two women perform such tricks as breaking an old woman’s string of pearls, turning tennis balls into bats and toads, and killing innocent puppies and squirrels. The coven of witches disbands after they compete for the attentions of Darryl Van Horne and place a death curse on Jennifer, a young unmarried...
(The entire section is 787 words.)