Holidays on Ice Characters

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Holidays on Ice Summary & Study Guide Description

Holidays on Ice Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris.

David Sedarisappears in The SantaLand Diaries; Dinah, the Christmas Whore

David Sedaris is the narrator and main character of the stories, "The SantaLand Diaries," and "Dinah, the Christmas Whore." A pithy, sarcastic, and borderline sado-masochistic man, he is a sharp observer of humanity and a big fan of soap operas. While he notices every person around him and notes their affectations, style, and phobias, he does not openly judge them. He may not like them or may find them annoying, but ultimately he is a benevolent narrator, willing to forgive nearly any trespass so long as the trespasser is entertaining.

In "The SantaLand Diaries," Sedaris is in his forties and attempting to pay his student loans as he works his way towards his dream job as a writer on "One Life to Live." He agrees to play an elf at the largest department store in New York, characteristically neurotic about the possibility that someone will see him in his costume outside of SantaLand. He is a good employee, punctual and enthusiastic, if he lacks the manic zeal and sense of appropriateness that the other elves possess. For example, he signs a Christmas carol, but he does so in the voice of Billie Holliday. A grown man however emulating a female jazz singer does not reinforce good and clean family fun, no matter what the song.

In "Dinah, the Christmas Whore," Sedaris is a high school student working after-school in a Piccadilly cafeteria and growing steadily more disillusioned with the Christmas season. He envisions himself as a great, poetic outcast whose future lies in traveling the world with a mischievous monkey named Socrates.

Jocelyn Dunbarappears in Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!

Jocelyn is the narrator of "Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!" Doggedly merry, even in the face of family tragedy, Jocelyn's letter is a thinly veiled cry for help to her loved ones. Jocelyn believes that her life has been blessed. She has a husband, a house, and three children: one in college, one in rehab, and one who stays in the bathroom to carve soap figurines. This slightly mutated idyll is shattered one day when Khe Sahn, an illegitimate child fathered by her husband during his tour of duty in Vietnam arrives. Jocelyn immediately hates the girl. She resents that the girl has gotten a free ride, and that she can simply barge into Jocelyn's family and make herself at home. She is also threatened by Khe Sahn's demonstrative physical overtures towards Clifford and Kevin. Jocelyn is desperate to get Khe Sahn out of her life, so desperate in fact that she may even have killed her own grandchild to ensure the Vietnamese girl's departure and punishment. Sanctimonious, bitter, and protective, Jocelyn is the inner voice of a suburban wife and mother whose life spirals out of control. Unfortunately, for Jocelyn, she spirals downwards with this negative energy.

Khe Sahn Dunbarappears in Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!

Khe Sahn is the illegitimate Vietnamese love child of Clifford Dunbar and a Vietnamese woman. She arrives at the Dunbar home speaking almost no English and spends her time there shopping and doting on the men of the house. She is a suspect in the murder of Jocelyn's grandchild, Don. Hated by Jocelyn, Khe Sahn returns the vindictiveness and spite in her own quiet way. Obsequious to wealthy men and apathetic to her new mother-figure, Khe Sahn knows how to get what she wants.

Clifford Dunbarappears in Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!

Clifford Dunbar is Jocelyn's husband and the father of Khe Sahn. He appreciates Khe Sahn's presence in the house if only for her constant offers of five dollar massages and unending flattery. Otherwise, Clifford remains silent and absent from Jocelyn's narrative.

Kevin Dunbarappears in Season's Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!

Kevin Dunbar is Jocelyn and Clifford's son and a successful college student with bright prospects for the future. He is the apple of his parents' eyes, and once Khe Sahn meets him, he immediately falls for her. After they spend some alone time in his bedroom, he must depart again for college, but he calls Khe Sahn daily. Jocelyn fears that Khe Sahn will destroy her son's future.

Lisa Sedarisappears in Dinah, the Christmas Whore

Lisa is David Sedaris's sister. She works at a cafeteria in Raleigh, North Carolina, and befriends a prostitute named Dinah. David has always considered his sister to be normal to a fault: boring, predictable, and painfully practical. However, one night she takes David along on a trip to rescue Dinah from her boyfriend. Lisa fearlessly charges through the slums of Raleigh and punches out a full-grown man before grabbing the prostitute by the hand and taking her home to meet her mother. Surprising and bold, Lisa becomes a heroine to David.

Socratesappears in Dinah, the Christmas Whore

Socrates is David's imaginary companion and a well-trained proboscis monkey with whom he will travel the world and gain enlightenment on the nature of humanity. Socrates is trained in the fighting arts.

Dinahappears in Dinah, the Christmas Whore

Dinah is a prostitute who works at the K&W cafeteria with Lisa Sedaris. On the night of Lisa's birthday, Dinah calls Lisa for help because her boyfriend has gotten drunk and mean. She dreams of staying clean and graduating from the cafeteria's steam counter to the meat-carving station. Grateful for the Sedaris family's attention, Dinah spends the evening of Lisa's birthday in their kitchen, telling stories, and enjoying the company.

Thaddeus Bristolappears in Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol

Thaddeus Bristol is a discriminating theatre critic who abhors the Christmas season and the scads of rote middle and elementary-school pageants that the season brings. He is perfectly willing to skewer the efforts of preadolescent actors and directors, because he believes that too many parents encourage their children to pursue interests for which they have no talent. Bristol will notify the children of their lack of talent, and seems to enjoy thoroughly dissecting the flaws and shortcomings of multiple amateur productions.

Bristol's own defect is in his inability to discriminate between amateur theatre and professional theatre. He judges a child's pageant on the same scale as he would a fully professional theatre production, and is therefore doomed to disappointment in every folding chair-packed school gymnasium and lunchroom.

Jim Timothyappears in Based Upon a True Story

Jim Timothy is a television producer who travels to rural Kentucky in order to track down a true-life story about a miraculous organ transplant. Impeccably dressed and unrelentingly paronizing, Timothy calls his audience ignorant, dirty, and squalid at every turn. A serial divorcee, he believes that every person can be bought and that every person's foremost priority ought to be material success at any cost. Although he considers himself to be an adept communicator, his success is due only to his financial resources.

The Womanappears in Based Upon a True Story

A Christian mother who sews her own kidney into her ailing son's body, the unnamed woman is the focus of Timothy's mission to Kentucky. She has refused to sell her story to tabloids and television studios alike and gives God credit for the successful surgery.

Phil Beckyappears in Based Upon a True Story

Brother Phil Becky is the preacher at the Jasper's Breath Pentecostal Church. He agrees to allow Jim Timothy to speak to the congregation in return for a brand-new church funded by Timothy's studio. Becky reinforces Timothy's theory that all people can be bought for the right price.

Narratorappears in Christmas Means Giving

The narrator is a wealthy and material-obesessed husband and father living in an affluent suburb. He prides himself on his ability to consume massive amounts of consumer goods and food, and competes with his neighbor to ensure that he is the most extreme consumer in the neighborhood. That competition turns dangerous when the narrator shiftys his focus from gaining to giving, and, in competition with Doug Cottingham, gives up his sons, his posessions, and several internal organs before he is certain that he has won. To this man, winning is more important than any of his other valuables or loved ones.

Bethappears in Christmas Means Giving

Beth is the narrator's wife and another fervent consumer. She supports her husband's competition with the Cottinghams and herself gives away several pieces of her body in order to show up Doug Cottingham's meager lung donation. She dies in a cardboard box with her husband, blind and toothless.

Doug Cottinghamappears in Christmas Means Giving

The new man in the block, Doug Cottingham wants to become the neighborhood alpha consumer, and therefore most supplant the narrator and his family. First he expands his home, and then, once he realizes that charity is far more jealousy and awe-inducing in his neighbors' eyes, he gives away most of his material wealth and parts of his body. Unfortuantely, he cannot compete with the narrator and ultimately dies with his wife, Nancy, of pneumonia in a cardboard box one winter.

The Beggarappears in Christmas Means Giving

The beggar precipitates the shift from hoarding wealth to giving it away. When Doug Cottingham gives him a dollar, he sets the trajectory of the rest of the story. The beggar, unfortuantely, does not value the material donations as much as he does the young sons of the narrator until he kills them and leaves them in the traveling sauna given to him by Cottingham.

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