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Welcome to the Monkey House Summary & Study Guide Description
Welcome to the Monkey House Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
The Encyclopedia Salesmanappears in Where I Live
The encyclopedia salesman is passing through Barnstable when he decides to stop at the oldest library building in America. He is disgusted to find that their reference section is completely out of date. The salesman is an outsider in Barnstable and seems repeatedly confused by the "backwards" ways of the town. The Yacht Club is really a shack and there is no where good to eat in town. To the salesman, Barnstable just seems boring and run down. He eventually gives up and retreats to the comfort of Hyannis. Playing miniature golf at Playland brings him comfort. The salesman is representative of a fast-moving passerby, who cannot understand the slower ways of the tiny village.
The Librarianappears in Where I Live
The librarian is an easily-alarmed woman, who tries to help the salesman. She offers him the names and addresses of the library trustees and suggests he try the Barnstable Yacht Club to find them. She is a quintessential Barnstable resident, unaware of how much her town is living in the past.
Father Nicholsonappears in Where I Live
Father Nicholson is the tender of the Church garden and a Barnstable resident. He seems like a moral center in the town. Though only mentioned twice, his words close the story. His description of the Barnstable residents ("We're Druids.") is the last image of the story. His church garden is also highly praised. He seems like the narrator's ideal sort of Barnstable inhabitant.
George Bergeronappears in Where I Live
George is Harrison's father. He has an above-average intelligence, so he is required to always wear his mental handicap radio, which periodically blasts loud sounds in his ear so he won't think too much or too hard. He also has a heavy bag tied around his neck, to keep him from being above average physically. These two handicaps keep George tired and distracted, unable to remember much or to keep up a real conversation with his wife, Hazel. George does not try to break the law. He tells Hazel that if one person breaks the law, then everyone will, and society will fall back to endless competition.
During the story, George sits with Hazel watching television. When the picture of Harrison appears on the screen, George recognizes his son, but his thoughts are interrupted by a blast from his mental handicap radio, and he forgets. Though George and Hazel watch as Harrison bursts into the broadcast and dances with the ballerina, it is unclear whether George sees his son shot and killed by Diana Moon Glampers, or whether he misses it when he goes to the kitchen for a beer. If he does see it, it is blasted from his consciousness by another loud sound in his ear.
Hazel Bergeronappears in Harrison Bergeron
Hazel is Harrison's mother. She is average mentally, so does not wear a handicap because she can't think long or hard, anyway. She worries about George and the strain his mental and physical handicaps put on him. She can't tell what the sounds are that burst into his brain, so she has to ask him about them when he winces or falls over. Hazel is interested in Diana Moon Glampers, and thinks she, Hazel, could be just as good a Handicapper General. She would like George to be able to take off his physical handicap when he is at home, since he wouldn't be competing with anyone there. She also would like to have only chimes play in the mental handicap radios every Sunday. George tells her this wouldn't work because chimes are too gentle to interrupt anyone's thoughts.
Hazel has tears on her cheeks at the beginning of the story but doesn't know what they're from. She doesn't comment on the television show with Harrison and the ballerina until the end of the story, when George returns from the kitchen to find her crying about something she saw on television. All she can remember is that it was sad.
Harrison Bergeronappears in Harrison Bergeron
Harrison is the fourteen-year-old son of George and Hazel Bergeron. He is seven feet tall, extremely intelligent, good-looking,and athletic, so he has to wear very extreme handicaps: 300 pounds of extra weight, headphones to impair his hearing and thinking, glasses to impair his eyesight, and a red ball on his nose and black caps on his teeth to hide his good looks. He is accused of plotting to overthrow the government and taken away by the H-G men in April, 2081. He escapes from jail and bursts into the television studio where the ballerinas are dancing. He declares himself the Emperor and selects the first ballerina who stands—the main ballerina, with the most handicaps—to be his Empress. He takes off her handicaps, and the handicaps of the musicians. He orders the musicians to play their best for the first time. He and the ballerina dance ecstatically until Diana Moon Glampers arrives and shoots them both to death.
Diana Moon Glampers, United States Handicappears in Harrison Bergeron
Diana Moon Glampers is in charge of all handicapping in this 2081, society. It is mentioned briefly that she bears a physical resemblance to Hazel Bergeron. Diana's job is to make sure everyone in the world is equal, with no one having a mental or physical advantage over anyone else. She sets all of the loud sounds that blast into mental handicap radios and controls the timing. Her agents, the H-G men, enforce the laws by arresting and fining anyone who strays from the handicap rules. It is the H-G men who take Harrison Bergeron away to jail, and it is Diana Moon Glampers who enters the television station at the end of the story and kills Harrison and his Empress Ballerina with a double-barreled, ten-gauge shotgun. She then forces the musicians to put their handicaps back on, thus restoring order.
Empress Ballerinaappears in Harrison Bergeron
The future Empress, at first just a dancer on the television show George and Hazel are watching, takes over for the news announcer when his speech impediment keeps him from completing his special news bulletin about Harrison. She wears very big physical handicap bags and a particularly ugly mask. When she reads the announcement, she disguises her voice to hide its beauty. When Harrison calls for an Empress, she is the first ballerina to stand and face him. When he takes off her handicaps and masks, her beauty is revealed, and she dances with him until she is shot by Diana Moon Glampers.
News Announcerappears in Harrison Bergeron
The news announcer has a bad speech impediment, which prevents him from reading the bulletin about Harrison Bergeron. All news announcers have an impediment like this.
Ballerinasappears in Harrison Bergeron
The ballerinas are dancing on the television show George and Hazel are watching. They have various levels of handicaps, mental and physical. They cannot dance properly because of the handicaps weighing them down. When Harrison crashes into the studio, they recognize him and cower in fear.
Musiciansappears in Harrison Bergeron
The musicians are playing in the studio for the ballerinas. They are also restrained by handicaps, until Harrison takes them off for them and demands that they play their best music.
Doris Sawyerappears in Who Am I This Time?
Doris Sawyer is the seventy-four-year-old woman who usually directs the shows for the North Crawford Mask and Wig Club, the community theatre in the story. Doris decides not to direct this time, however, because she has to take care of her mother and also believes that the theatre should bring in some new directors. She helps the narrator/director cast the roles for A Streetcar Named Desire by reading Stella for Harry Nash's Stanley audition. She also tries to coach Helene Shaw for her Stella audition but isn't able to get anything out of Helene, even when she asks whether Helene has ever been in love. After Harry and Helene read together, though, Doris and the narrator/director immediately cast Helene as Stella.
Harry Nashappears in Who Am I This Time?
Harry Nash is a clerk at the hardware store in town. He is an orphan who has lived in the town all his life. He does not know who his parents are. In real life, Harry is shy and quiet and keeps to himself—he doesn't even go to the meetings of the community theatre. When he is on stage, though, he disappears into the character he is playing, and the whole town loves him. He has the lead role in every play. Whenever he is asked to be in a play, Harry responds with, "Who am I this time?"
Harry comes to the auditions for A Streetcar Named Desire, even though everyone already knows he will get the part of Stanley. His audition amazes the narrator/director and Doris Sawyer with his fierce portrayal of Stanley. He changes out of his coat and tie and wears a torn shirt. The narrator describes a complete transformation from Harry's small, meek frame to a frightening brute. Immediately after the scene ends, though, Harry puts his coat and tie back on and returns to his normal personality. He is very humble and shy and not sure whether he did well or not.
When Harry reads with Helen, Doris and the narrator/director see Helene transformed as well. As the narrator puts it, Helene becomes Stella just like Harry becomes Stanley. Rehearsals continue this way, with Harry arriving to rehearsal and leaving at the end of the night in character, as Stanley, violent and rude. Meanwhile, Helene has fallen in love with Harry's stage persona. When the show opens, Helene tries to give Harry a rose after their bow, but he has already left the stage and gone home. The narrator/director explains that Harry goes straight home after each performance without changing or taking off his makeup or even finishing his bow. He turns back into the shy clerk and goes home alone.
Harry shies away from Helene's advances until she figures out the secret: she gets him a copy of Romeo and Juliet as a closing night present. As they read the balcony scene together, Harry turns into Romeo and leaves gaily with Helene. They are married a week later and continue to read plays together from then on.
Helene Shawappears in Who Am I This Time?
Helene is a beautiful young woman, who has been in North Crawford for eight weeks. She works for the telephone company, traveling to towns to train workers on the new machines the company is using. The narrator meets Helene and asks her to come audition for A Streetcar Named Desire.
The narrator is hoping Helene will be good for Stella, the young woman in the play. However, Helene's audition is not good, even when Doris coaches her. She is unable to access any feelings. Helene expresses how upset she is about this when she comes back later to read with Harry. She has never been in love and doesn't know what's wrong with her. When Harry comes in, though, he is already in character as Stanley, and his effect on Helene is extreme. According to the narrator, she becomes Stella, as Harry provokes something new in her. As the play's rehearsals progress, Helene falls in love with Harry. She tells the telephone company she wants to stay in North Crawford. She refuses to see who Harry is when he is not on stage, even when her fellow actor Lydia tries to point it out to her.
Helene finally realizes that Harry changes when he is not acting on opening night, when he runs away before the curtain call is over and leaves her alone with the rose she wanted to give him. Helene wants Harry to go to the cast party with her on closing night, and comes up with the plan to ensnare him with Romeo and Juliet. At the end of the story, after she and Harry are married, Helene is very happy and satisfied, according to the narrator's observation of her. She and Harry constantly read plays to each other and, it is implied, continue to star in all of the plays at North Crawford Mask and Wig Club.
Narratorappears in Who Am I This Time?
The narrator of "Who Am I This Time" is also a character in the story. He is a member of North Crawford Mask and Wig Club and the director of A Streetcar Named Desire. He points out at the beginning of the story that he has no directing experience and very little acting experience. He enlists the help of Doris Sawyer to cast the show, though he is already set on Harry Nash for "the Marlon Brando part."
Much of the rest of the information about the narrator is implied through the way he tells the story. Vonnegut takes full advantage of the narrator's status as a small-town, amateur director, poking fun at his inexperience and bumpkin quality through details such as the "Marlon Brando part" reference and the description of Blanche DuBois as merely Stella's "drunk" and "faded" sister. He is a perceptive person, however, and is concerned for Helene's feelings from the beginning when he meets her and notices her detachment. This perception is a good trait for a storyteller, and the narrator's commitment to his own perspective enlivens the story, especially during descriptions of Harry Nash's acting ability—no hyperbole is held back. Vonnegut's tone for the narrator betrays a tenderness toward the narrator and his world in all its amateur and provincial glory . As in many of his stories, Vonnegut manages to both poke fun and memorialize his subjects.
Lydia Millerappears in Who Am I This Time?
Lydia is the wife of Verne Miller, Harry's boss at the store. Lydia is playing the role of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. She has played opposite Harry many times, and is the one who notices that Helene is falling in love with him. She provides the reader with a different perspective on Harry, since she is a woman and has found herself under his spell in the past. Like the narrator, Lydia is concerned enough to try to reason with Helene to help her, but ultimately backs off when Helene refuses her advice.
Billy the Poetappears in Welcome to the Monkey House
Billy the Poet is an outlaw who defies the government by kidnapping and deflowering Suicide Hostesses. No one knows what Billy looks like because every woman he kidnaps describes him differently. When Nancy is confronted with him, she sees he is very short and strange looking—not the swarthy playboy she may have been expecting. Billy's treatment of Nancy is systematic, as he has completed this task many times before. He has a gang of men and women who are also nothingheads. The women are all former Suicide Hostesses, who were once deflowered by him. He tells Nancy that they all hated him at first but came to appreciate his purpose and be grateful. When he deflowers Nancy, he is determined and sad about it. It must be done. "If there were any other way," he says.
Billy believes that the government is robbing mankind by taking away healthy sexuality. His goal is to spread the "nothinghead movement" until everyone can take birth control that prevents reproduction, not sexual desire or pleasure. He explains to Nancy that the government has equated sex with death by restricting any sexual image to the Suicide Parlors. He also tells her about his grandfather's wedding night, during which his grandmother cried and became sick. Eventually, his grandparents developed a healthy and robust sex life. He leaves Nancy with a sonnet that his grandfather read to his grandmother on that night. Billy's choice of conversation and literature supports his belief that, by banning sex, the government is oppressing life itself, and not just physical intimacy.
Nancy McLuhanappears in Welcome to the Monkey House
Nancy is the Suicide Hostess that Billy the Poet kidnaps in the story. Like all Hostesses, she is a virgin. Nancy is a representative of her government and society: she is uninterested in sex and disgusted by both Billy and the women who help him. Nancy is surprised by Billy's small stature and is even angrier that she cannot use her martial arts skills to escape, first because of his gun, and then because of his gang.
Nancy is not unintelligent. She is, in fact, educated, quick-witted and self-sufficient. She provides the reader with an impressive human specimen through which to view the current world state. She resists Billy every step of the way, arguing his points from the time he first reveals himself in the Parlor. Even after her ethical birth control pills wear off, and she is a nothinghead, she wants nothing to do with sex. Ultimately Billy's gang holds her down while he forcibly deflowers her.
Afterward, Nancy still holds her views about sex and is disgusted and humiliated. It isn't until Billy begins to explain his views that Nancy seems to begin second-guessing her long-held system of beliefs. Her own feelings are changing as he speaks. Throughout the story, Nancy serves as the reader's eyes into both the world in general and into the progression of the story. Her recognition of the Howard Johnson's from beneath the building in sewers leads the narration to explain the Howard Johnson's presence more fully. Her opinions keep a constant focus on the state of the world in the future time Vonnegut has created, as opposed to Billy's view of how the world should be, which is closer to the world the reader actually knows. Nancy's point of view also allows the reader to consider the story from a woman's perspective instead of the perspective of a gender-neutral narrator. This sometimes helps Vonnegut approach the more controversial aspects of the story with a sensitivity and dimension that is needed for such a morally ambiguous series of events.
Pete Crockerappears in Welcome to the Monkey House
Pete Crocker is the Sheriff of Barnstable County. He comes to the Suicide Parlor to tell Nancy and Mary that Billy the Poet is on the loose. He tells them everything is "under control," but they push him for the full message until he confirms that Billy the Poet is targeting Suicide Parlors. The Hostesses dominate the situation, admonishing Crocker for not being completely informative and for implying that they cannot handle the truth or take care of themselves. When Nancy receives a phone call, Crocker and the police tap the line and, when the caller is determined to be Billy the Poet, trace the call. The Sheriff leaves and takes Mary with him, to go see the criminal.
Mary Kraftappears in Welcome to the Monkey House
Mary is Nancy's fellow Hostess at the Suicide Parlor. She is a brunette and, like Nancy and all suicide hostesses, a "pretty, tough-minded and intelligent" girl. As a suicide hostess, she is also a virgin, at least six feet tall, and "holds advanced degrees in psychology and nursing." Mary shares Nancy's anger about Billy the Poet. She has disdain for the hostesses that have been targeted by him so far. She believes they should be able to defend themselves or at least let the police know what he looks like. When Billy the Poet is supposedly caught, Mary leaves with Sheriff Crocker to go see him.
Foxy Grandpaappears in Welcome to the Monkey House
Billy the Poet disguises himself as someone the Hostesses refer to as a Foxy Grandpa, an old man who comes into the Suicide Parlor as a volunteer, who socializes with his Hostess for hours before requesting to be put to sleep. The Hostess must wait with the Foxy Grandpa until he requests the needle. This particular Foxy Grandpa (Billy the Poet) is helped by Nancy. While he decides on a final meal, he tells Nancy the story of how J. Edgar Nation developed and promoted ethical birth control. He eventually reveals himself to Nancy by removing his rubber old man mask.
J. Edgar Nationappears in Welcome to the Monkey House
This character is only mentioned in the story. He is the man who developed ethical birth control. (See story summary for Nation's story.)
Billy's Gangappears in Welcome to the Monkey House
Billy's gang consists of eight men and women, with their faces hidden with stockings. The women are former Suicide Hostesses. The gang takes Nancy to bed and gives her a shot of what they call "truth serum," which makes her sleep. She wakes up a nothinghead, no longer under the influence of the ethical birth control pills. The women then bathe and clothe Nancy and take her to meet Billy the Poet. The gang returns finally to hold Nancy down while Billy deflowers her and then to help her to bed.
Newtappears in Long Walk to Forever
Newt is a twenty-year-old private in the Artillery. When he hears from his mother that his childhood friend Catharine is getting married, he goes A.W.O.L. from the Army to come see Catharine and tell her he loves her. The narrator describes him as "shy," and his speaking habit as "absent," "even in matters that concerned him desperately."
Throughout the story, Newt, not phased by Catharine's refusals, tries different tactics to get her to admit she loves him and cancel her wedding. He lets her be angry with him for coming at this time, admits he had no expectation for her reaction, agrees to leave but reminds her simply that he loves her very much. He recognizes she loves him and kisses her. He agrees with most of what she says: they should part as friends; they are good friends, etc. He reminds her that he will be punished for going A.W.O.L. He hints that he doesn't believe she loves her fiancé. He kisses her again and she lets him. He convinces her to sit in the orchard with him.
Newt doesn't give up. Even when Catharine refuses his proposal, he walks away only to turn around and call her name once more. Eventually, he wins, having maintained his shy, absent style throughout the story.
Catharineappears in Long Walk to Forever
Catharine is twenty years old and is going to be married in a week. She is caught totally off guard when Newt tells her he loves her. She is angry, frustrated and sorry. She tells him she is honored and that she loves his friendship, but that it's too late and she's getting married.
Throughout the story, Catharine is the one who keeps talking. She gives Newt all the reasons why it was wrong of him to come and says repeatedly that they need to part and just be friends. She claims to love her fiancé, but she lets Newt kiss her twice. It is not until she watches Newt sleep for a full hour in the orchard that the reader knows she loves him. When she wakes him up, however, she once again refuses him and resolves to go home.
The final moment of the story occurs in Catharine's mind. She watches Newt walk away, and seems to almost will him to turn back around and call to her once more. When he does, she immediately gives in and runs to him.
Henry Stewart Chasensappears in Long Walk to Forever
Henry Stewart Chasens does not appear in the story; he is only mentioned. He is Catharine's fiancé. Newt continually refers to him using his full, three-part name, which paints a subtly ridiculous picture of him.
Narratorappears in The Foster Portfolio
The narrator, an investment counselor, is very proud of his work. He spends a lot of time telling the reader about the details of his skill, talent and responsibility. He takes pleasure in presenting himself well, in sizing up a client quickly and in taking the best possible care of each client's investments.
This pride in his work drives the story along. The narrator notices immediately the condition of Foster's life, and, when he knows the extent of Foster's wealth, keeps pushing to understand why Foster lives the way he does. He takes the trouble to probe Alma about Foster's past and continues to ask Foster about his money. The narrator seems personally affected by Foster's situation.
It is again his care for his job and his client that brings the narrator to Foster's restaurant. He is proud of the work he's done and wants to show it to his client. He also wants, perhaps, one last opportunity to figure Foster out. In the end, the narrator shows his compassion and understanding by leaving Foster alone. With the mystery solved, he retreats into a client-counselor relationship with Foster.
Herbert Fosterappears in The Foster Portfolio
Herbert Foster requests the narrator's service at the beginning of the story. At first it is unclear why Foster needs an investment counselor: he is a bookkeeper at a grocery store, a bartender on the weekends and barely earns enough money to keep his family fed and clothed. His life is very humble. When the reader finds out that Foster actually has fifty thousand in savings, as well as the eight hundred and fifty thousand in securities from his grandfather, it becomes unclear why Foster is essentially pretending to be poor.
Over the course of the story, Foster is quite secretive, both with his wife and his counselor. He wants to continue living his life the way he has, even in light of his giant fortune. The only hints the narrator picks up as to Herbert's inside state are intuitive: a "quiet desperation," a strange conviction to his mother and showing her his respectability, a musical skill but a vehement refusal to give it any weight in his life. When Herbert talks about his father, it is with disgust and dismissal. When the narrator asks about his father's music, there is a momentary excitement in Herbert that he quickly suppresses.
It is not until the end of the story that the reader and the narrator understand Foster's motivation. In the end, Foster enters as his alter ego, "Firehouse" Harris, a brilliant jazz pianist. Here, he seems in his natural element, and his secrecy is finally explained. He wants to be a committed, respectable man, and he believes that jazz music and family life are mutually exclusive. He cannot give up either one, so he lies to maintain his double life.
Alma Fosterappears in The Foster Portfolio
Alma is Herbert's unsuspecting wife. She is a plain woman, wearing housecoats made of the same material as her curtains. She knows how to live frugally, and she admires her husband for supporting his family respectably. She does hope for more, however—she tells the narrator she'd hoped Foster's grandfather would leave them some money, and she would like to have a television. Alma believes her husband is doing all he can to keep the family afloat. Alma is the one who tells the narrator about Foster's mother, father and grandfather and sheds some light on Foster's desire to be a respectable, responsible family man. She also expresses a disgust for Foster's father and his jazz music.
Cpl. Norman Fullerappears in Miss Temptation
Fuller is home after eighteen months in Korea, where he never actually fought. He is carrying frustration with him, which he directs at Susanna and at women in general. When he turns around in his barstool, he doesn't intend to make a speech or attract any attention. He hopes one or two people will notice his anger, but no more. It is only when the stool screeches and he realizes that he is the center of attention that he decides to attack Susanna. It seems as if he is almost just trying to save face, not to look ridiculous.
The scene with Fuller's mother illuminates his state. As she asks him about his day and about what it is like to be home, his reactions give the reader a clear picture of his position. Fuller avoids questions about girls, friends and anything social. He feels alone and doesn't see a way out. His revelation about divinity school is a surprise and seems like an obvious way of avoiding really coming back from war. He wants to focus all his frustration and rage on preaching against the abstract and old fashioned "Temptation."
It is not a surprise to the reader that both Bearse and Susanna are able to put Fuller in his place. Bearse, an old man, and Susanna, a young woman, both bring experience to Fuller's attention that he does not have himself, and that he has not considered when he developed his theory on temptation.
Susannaappears in Miss Temptation
Susanna is a nineteen-year-old actress staying in the village for the summer. She has a job at the summer theatre there. Every day she follows the same sensual routine: she gets up at noon, goes out onto her porch, feeds her cat, puts on her jewelry and generally puts on a feminine show before she walks down to the drug store. The villagers seem to love her and her mystique. When Fuller attacks her, she first responds dumbly, unsure of his intention, then is humiliated by his accusations. She is stripped of her confidence.
When Fuller comes to see her, though, Susanna has had time to regain her strength and wastes no time in expressing her anger. Her points are all intelligent and true. She shatters Fuller's picture of her as a character, or a mysterious, cruel fixture. Everything from the plain decoration of her room to her very human emotion makes it impossible for Fuller to hold her at a distance, to keep her a symbol.
Bearse Hinkleyappears in Miss Temptation
Bearse Hinkley is the seventy-two-year-old pharmacist. He loves Susanna. She is one of the many pleasures he misses. He enjoys watching her and interacting with her. Bearse emerges as a wise man in his conversations with Fuller after the attack. He sees through Fuller and remembers his own days as a young man, frustrated over women. He minimizes Fuller's complaint and defines it as a universal phase in the life of every man, not an evil to be fought against. He drives Fuller's development, first through subtle conversation, then by actually forcing Fuller to go see Susanna.
Cpl. Fuller's motherappears in Miss Temptation
Fuller's mother is a widow, glad to have her son back from war but concerned about his state now that he is safe. The reader only knows her through her questions to Fuller during their dinner in the middle of the story. She tries to take care of her son without making him angry. She hopes he will settle down soon and get married.
Colonel Brian Kellyappears in All the King's Horses
Colonel Kelly is on the plane going to India, where he and his family will now live so he can be a military attaché. Kelly is a leader and uses his learned military skills to try to beat Pi Ying at his chess game. He is suspicious of Barzov's role in the proceedings from the start. He believes Barzov is controlling Pi Ying.
Kelly realizes early on that he has to treat the chess game as a battle and accept that there will be casualties. This conviction is challenged throughout the game, up until the climactic moment when Kelly chooses to sacrifice his own son in order to end the game in a victory for the Americans. Kelly's biggest challenge is to keep his thoughts off his wife's pain, as their sons are in mortal danger, and as Kelly eventually sacrifices one of them. From the moment the game begins, Kelly feels his wife's shock and disgust at his ability to turn off his emotion and disregard humanity. She has never seen that side of him. He pretends the sacrifice of his son is a mistake, partly to make the tragedy easier for his wife.
When Kelly wins the game, he does not express much feeling. As with battle, he is aware of his job and of the sacrifices he has had to make. It is over, and he has done it, and he focuses on leaving the place as quickly as possible. He retains the mental energy to verbally spar with Barzov briefly before he finally refuses further interaction.
Margaret Kellyappears in All the King's Horses
Margaret, throughout the story, is at the mercy of her husband's ability and handling of the situation. She holds her sons and does what Kelly says, always with a blanched fear about her. Kelly does not interact much with his wife, knowing that he must win the game and won't be able to if he is trying to comfort her. Margaret breaks down when Kelly sacrifices Jerry, though she does not at first realize what has happened. She must hear the words from Pi Ying to grasp the moment. She then turns on Kelly, beating him and hysterically yelling. By the time Pi Ying is killed and the group is waiting for Barzov's return, Margaret is exhausted and sleeps with her sons on her lap.
Jerry and Paul Kellyappears in All the King's Horses
Colonel Kelly's twin ten-year-old sons, Jerry and Paul are the most vulnerable chess pieces and ultimately drive the young Chinese woman to killing Pi Ying in order to save them from execution. Throughout the story, they are quiet and well-behaved, frightened and sleepy. They do not understand what is happening.
Young Corporalappears in All the King's Horses
The corporal is the most volatile of the enlisted men. He has a tantrum when Pi Ying explains the rules and has to be held down by the Sergeant. Before Kelly reveals Pi Ying's plan, the corporal doesn't believe that anyone would dare harm an American. When the game begins, he is difficult and untrusting of Kelly's commands. However, a threat from Pi Ying to have him tortured forces him to play along, even if defiantly.
Sergeantappears in All the King's Horses
Volunteers to be the king's pawn, the most dangerous position. Helps calm down the corporal. The Sergeant is the first to be killed, when Pi Ying takes the king's pawn, even though Kelly has set it up so there is no tactical advantage for him to do so. This event shakes Kelly's cool frame of mind and puts the game's reality into stark clarity.
Lieutenant/Pilotappears in All the King's Horses
Points out that there are no safer positions. Becomes the king's bishop. Eases the tension by making a joke about religion. Kelly is grateful to see the other soldiers relax a little and get ready to play. The pilot also encourages Kelly later in the game to continue and helps command the young corporal to do as Kelly directs.
T-4appears in All the King's Horses
Suggests the wife and children be put in safer positions, not knowing that there are no safe positions in a chess game. Later, he attacks a guard just after Kelly's son, Jerry, is taken by Pi Ying. He is wrestled to the ground and taken back to his position. In the end, he is the farthest moved piece and takes Barzov's queen.
Pi Yingappears in All the King's Horses
Pi Ying is the Communist guerilla chief, who controls the area where Kelly's plane crashes. He is apparently under the influence of Major Barzov as a political pawn. Even during the chess game, he appears to change after receiving comments or whispers from Barzov. Pi Ying takes delight in the chess game and in every display of anger or despair from the Americans. His pleasure, however, ends up blurring his vision, and he falls for Kelly's trap when he takes Jerry off the board.
Pi Ying dies at the hand of his ornamental young woman, who makes her feelings known about Jerry's sacrifice but is ignored by Pi Ying. She then kills him with a knife. It is unclear whether Pi Ying intended to actually have Jerry executed or not.
Major Barzovappears in All the King's Horses
Major Barzov is a military observer from Russia. In the meeting between Pi Ying and Kelly, Barzov claims he is in no position to interfere with Pi Ying's plans. Kelly is suspicious of this claim, though, because Pi Ying seems frightened of Barzov. Sitting next to Pi Ying during the game, Barzov seems bored and displeased. However, he does weigh in at important moments, whispering to Pi Ying just before Pi Ying explains the rules and before he decides to take the king's pawn—a tactically pointless move that, nonetheless, is a death sentence for Kelly's sergeant. He maintains a disdainful distance, but is clearly engaged in the game and exerting power in the room, making cruel jokes and possibly influencing Pi Ying's game. He apparently derives pleasure from seeing Americans in this situation.
When Pi Ying is killed, Barzov takes charge immediately. He puts a hold on the game and forces Kelly and his wife to wait to find out whether or not their son will be killed. After a long time, Barzov comes back and announces that he will finish the game. He sits on Pi Ying's chair. He presents himself as a smarter, more formidable opponent for Kelly, but the reality is that Pi Ying's last move has already lost the game.
When Barzov loses the game, he allows Kelly to keep his son Jerry, and lets the remaining prisoners go. He claims that he would have done this even if he won, because he is in no position politically to start a fight with America. He continues to bait Kelly, suggesting another game of regular chess, and finally another game with real people as pawns. Kelly refuses both invitations.
Pi Ying's Young Chinese Womanappears in All the King's Horses
This young woman was in the room when Pi Ying told Kelly about the chess game. Kelly detected sympathy in her at that moment, when he pleaded for the lives of his wife and children, but as she sits in the balcony with Pi Ying, her face is totally blank. Periodically, Pi Ying turns to her or touches her to make sure she's witnessing his game and enjoying it.
However, when Pi Ying takes Kelly's son, Jerry, the young woman becomes very upset, crying and pleading with Pi Ying. A moment later she stabs Pi Ying, killing him and then kills herself with the same knife.
Harold K. Bullardappears in Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog
Harold K. Bullard is an old man who enjoys talking about himself and doesn't mind if no one wants to hear what he has to say. He sits next to the stranger, talks at him and ignores the stranger's complaints about Bullard's dog. He speaks loudly and clearly, for an audience. When the stranger starts telling his story, however, Harold is enraptured, and is a good listener, asking questions and exclaiming at the exciting moments. By telling his story, the stranger has effectively put Harold in his place.
Strangerappears in Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog
The stranger is also an old man, trying to sit and read his book. He tries to politely avoid Bullard and his dog, but to no avail. He even tries to leave and sit somewhere else, but they follow him. Finally, he is driven to tell his story, perhaps because he needs to get it out at last—or perhaps because he wants to get rid of Bullard. He seems educated and dignified, and ultimately kind-hearted. He is now independently wealthy and has been his whole life, because of the stock market tip Edison's dog Sparky gave him.
Thomas Alva Edisonappears in Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog
The famous inventor of the incandescent light bulb appears in the story in flashback, as a young mad scientist type, who brings the stranger into his lab one day to tell him about the intelligence analyzer. When Edison finds out that Sparky is more intelligent than he himself, he recovers from the shock quickly and is miffed. He addresses the dog as an equal, confronting him for letting Edison do all the work.
Sparkyappears in Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog
Sparky is Edison's dog. The intelligence analyzer almost breaks when it is tested on him, revealing his extreme intelligence. According to the stranger's story, Sparky speaks English and sets both Edison and the stranger for life in exchange for their promise not to betray his secret. Even so, the other dogs are already on to him, and Sparky is killed as soon as he leaves the laboratory.
Narratorappears in New Dictionary
"New Dictionary" does not really have any characters. The narrator is really the writer, most likely Vonnegut himself, who is writing a review of the new Random House dictionary. The writer calls the dictionary beautiful but seems reluctant to attach much importance to its existence.
Mr. Leonardappears in Next Door
Mr. Leonard is Paul's father. He is impatient with Mrs. Leonard, who he thinks treats Paul like a baby. He admonishes her for speaking too loudly—the neighbors will hear—and is exasperated with her nervousness at leaving Paul alone. He thinks Paul is old enough to take care of himself. He tends to be a bit sarcastic and generally short tempered. When the Leonards get home from the movies, however, he is clearly happy to be home and loves his son. He and his wife undress Paul tenderly and are anxious to hear how it went.
Mrs. Leonardappears in Next Door
Mrs. Leonard is Paul's mother. She is very nervous about leaving Paul home alone but also doesn't want to take him along, as the movie "isn't for children." As she and Mr. Leonard leave, she tries his patience by asking Paul question after question about what he's going to do while they're gone, whether he can dial the phone, etc. When the Leonards return after the movie, she is very happy to be home with her son and very proud that he is alright. She notices the worn spots in his clothes and identifies the scent coming from the handkerchief in his pocket as "Tabu," a perfume.
Paul Leonardappears in Next Door
An eight-year-old boy, Paul is being left home alone for the first time. It doesn't seem very important to him at first. He plans to look at his microscope. He is not afraid and seems almost amused by his parent's agitation. However, Paul becomes very frightened listening to the fight in the next apartment, until at one point, he is genuinely afraid that the people fighting will kill each other.
Paul attempts to resolve the situation in a very straightforward way: he calls the radio program the Hargers are listening to and sends a message from Mr. Harger to Mrs. Harger, making up. When this seems to have worked, Paul experiences a huge rush of emotion and feels childhood lagging behind him. Then, the plan fails. It is not Mrs. Harger in the room but another woman. When Paul hears the shots, he instinctively runs out the door of his apartment. His interaction with Charlotte is terrified and submissive—he just wants to get back inside, where he hides under his covers.
When the policeman comes, Paul grasps the situation, seeing Mr. Harger's behavior, and maintains the lie Mr. Harger tells. Seeing Mrs. Harger's return only adds more to the contradictions Paul has witnessed and more to what he must now make sense of.
By the time his parents come home, Paul is a different boy. They have no way of knowing the transformation that has occurred.
Mr. Lemuel K. Hargerappears in Next Door
Mr. Harger is Paul's neighbor. He is evidently separated from his wife and currently fighting with another woman. When Mr. Harger appears near the end of the story, he pays attention to Paul only to pressure him to deny hearing any shots.
Mrs. Rose Hargerappears in Next Door
Mrs. Harger appears near the end of the story, when she comes running back to her husband. She is ready to make it work after hearing Harger's message on All-Night Sam.
Charlotteappears in Next Door
Charlotte is Mr. Harger's girlfriend, and the woman fighting on the other side of Paul's wall. She is described stereotypically, as blond and messy. She evidently shot at Mr. Harger and missed, whether on purpose or not, the reader is not told. She treats Paul like a baby, throwing money at him and telling him to keep everything a secret. She wears "Tabu," which, according to Mrs. Leonard's reaction, is a cheap and trendy perfume.
All-Night Samappears in Next Door
All-Night Sam is the most sympathetic character Paul encounters over the course of the evening. The sounds of Paul's "folks" fighting in the background touch him, and he puts all his heart and soul into the speech he gives, trying to patch things up. His logic is questionable, but his intentions are good.
Policemanappears in Next Door
The policeman comes in near the end of the story to question Paul and Mr. Harger about the gunshots. He doesn't pay much attention to Paul's nervous demeanor. He takes them both at their word and leaves.
Grace McClellanappears in More Stately Mansions
Grace is the neighbor of the narrator and Anne. She is obsessed with interior decorating. On the one hand, she takes Anne as a friend right away, kindly and without question. On the other hand, she constantly criticizes Anne's home and never talks about anything but decorating. The reader is exposed to parts of Grace as the story continues. The revelation of her home as a dump throws her very sanity into question. The reader sticks with her, though, just as Anne does. Grace seems perfectly happy running around her dilapidated house, dreaming ways to make it more beautiful. She files years of back issues of design magazines away in file cabinets,and collects swatches and clippings. She knows exactly what her house will be like, someday.
George McClellanappears in More Stately Mansions
George is Grace's husband. He seems taciturn and a bit antisocial at first, but as the narrator gets to know him, he opens up a little. He is under financial pressure, and is constantly trying to dig out from under it. This is why Grace can't have her house, and, the narrator concludes, why George drinks a lot.
George displays a real love for Grace, though, in his looks toward her, his patience with her and his ultimate gift to her of a brand new home.
Anneappears in More Stately Mansions
Anne is the narrator's wife. She is initially insulted and bothered by Grace's open criticism of her home, but she allows Grace to keep coming over and making suggestions. Anne seems like an intelligent, independent woman, but even she is not immune to Grace's social pressure. She feels ashamed of her house at times and annoyed at Grace. However, she sticks in with Grace, especially after she sees the real state of Grace's home. Anne is endlessly patient with Grace and plays the game with her. When George comes into enough money to decorate the home, Anne throws herself into the work full force and is proud and nervous to show it to Grace.
Narratorappears in More Stately Mansions
The narrator is a happily married man, uninterested in Grace's exploits, but patient with her because he cares about his wife and eventually about George. The narrator picks up on strangeness from Grace from the beginning. His tone is that of a humoring father much of the time. However, he, too, is swept up in the excitement of fixing up Grace's house and is just as pleased as Anne and George when it is finished.
Commodore William Rumfoordappears in The Hyannis Port Story
Commodore Rumfoord lives across the street from the Kennedy house in Hyannis Port. When the narrator first sees him, he notes that Rumfoord's attire is odd for the season and location. He looks rather like a bear. He is rabid in his support of his son and in defense of his son when Hay Boyden heckles him during his speech. Rumfoord is a fierce supporter of Goldwater and is, in general, against the Kennedys and the Democrats. Over the course of the story, the narrator notes that the Rumfoords are an object of ridicule. The Kennedys refer to them as the "Pooh people" because of their resemblance to bears. They also assign a Secret Service agent especially to Commodore Rumfoord, jokingly labeling the agent "Rumfoord Specialist" and "Ambassador to Rumfoordiana." Rumfoord seems unaware of these jabs, but he becomes furious when the tour guide on the boat makes fun of him in front of the tourists.
Rumfoord changes his attitude when he learns about his son's relationship with Shelia Kennedy. His bluster recedes, and his bossy nature is subdued. He seems deflated at the realization that his son is choosing an adult life, one that doesn't include Commodore Rumfoord and their common political ambitions.
Narratorappears in The Hyannis Port Story
The narrator is a storm window salesman, who accidentally makes friends with the Rumfoords. There is not much information given about the narrator's personality or even his life. His version of the story seems relatively reliable for a first person narrator. He observes the Rumfoords closely and considerately. He travels to Hyannis Port to install storm windows and does not have an ulterior motive or a particular desire to be near the Kennedy compound. He also does not judge the lives or the actions of the people he is describing. He serves mostly as a close observer.
Robert Taft Rumfoordappears in The Hyannis Port Story
Robert is the Commodore's son, and, evidently, the Commodore's main project. Robert is the speaker at the Lions Club meeting where the Commodore and the narrator meet each other. Robert is a high-achiever, but the narrator initially observes a lack of real interest or passion in his speech about "the Democratic mess in Washington and Hyannis Port." This observation is confirmed as true when Robert reveals his engagement to Sheila Kennedy, a fourth cousin of the president against whom he's been speaking. Young and in love, Robert breaks unceremoniously from his father's agenda to settle into his own life, away from politics.
Clarice Rumfoordappears in The Hyannis Port Story
Clarice Rumfoord appears in the beginning of the story as a tight, tense woman, the only Rumfoord who doesn't look like a bear. The narrator notes her tension and terseness for most of the story, until Robert brings Sheila home to dinner. When she hears her son is engaged and is quitting politics, Clarice immediately looks younger, calmer and happier. She is even happier when the Commodore mentions that he will need to go back to work now that Robert will be gone. Clarice bursts forth with a comment about how she has trouble admiring a man who doesn't work. The impression is that Clarice has been holding back her objections to her husband's obsession with Hyannis Port and the abnormal existence that has sprung from it, and that it's been taking a toll on her life.
Sheila Kennedyappears in The Hyannis Port Story
Sheila is the fourth cousin of President Kennedy. The Secret Service tells Commodore Rumfoord that Sheila and Robert have been meeting secretly on boats and yachts in the harbor for some time. When Sheila comes to dinner, the entire Rumfoord family and the narrator approve of her. She symbolizes healthy, young love and promise of a normal, happy life for Robert.
Hay Boydenappears in The Hyannis Port Story
Hay is the Kennedy Democrat who heckles Robert Rumfoord during his speech at the Lions Club. Hay argues loudly with the Commodore about politics and then argues with the narrator about a bathtub Hays says is defective. The Commodore mistakes this argument for the narrator's defense of his Republican opinion and approaches the narrator to install some storm windows for him. Hay's function in the story is, thus, to introduce the narrator to Rumfoord, if accidentally.
Raymond Boyleappears in The Hyannis Port Story
Boyle is the Secret Service agent assigned to dealing with Rumfoord-related issues. His presence implies an ongoing assault from Rumfoord, and the nicknames for Boyle—"Ambassador to Rumfoordiana," "Rumfoord Specialist"—imply that the Kennedys to do not take the assault seriously. Boyle is a true Secret Service man. He defends his integrity to Rumfoord and refuses to engage in a partisan debate. He has served both Republican and Democratic presidents and will continue to do so.
President Kennedyappears in The Hyannis Port Story
The President only appears at the very end of the story, as he speaks out of his car window to Rumfoord and requests that Rumfoord light the Goldwater portrait. In the short exchange, Kennedy is drawn as a man with a sense of humor and subtlety. There is something ambiguous in the exchange; it is hard to tell whether Kennedy's tone is sympathetic and sensitive or cruel and exploitative.
Karlappears in D. P.
Joe is a 6-year-old, black orphan living with nuns in a small village in Germany. It is not clear how he ended up there. Joe is told by another orphan, Peter, that his mother was a German woman and his father was an American soldier who left her. Peter says Joe is not a real German. Joe is sensitive, and this hurts his feelings. A nun reassures him that no one, not even Peter, knows who his parents are.
Joe is a lonely dreamer. During daily walks, he always wanders out of his place in line and ends up trailing behind the other orphans. He is physically quite small, and one of the sisters takes particular care of him. When he wanders to the end of the line each day, they talk. Joe is inquisitive and has lots of questions for the sister about America, his parents and many other things.
When Joe believes his father has come to town, he gets incredibly excited. A new determination and drive arise in Joe. He runs away from the orphanage at night when no one believes he saw his father. He is courageous enough to approach the American camp, even though it is filled with large men speaking a strange language. Joe, at heart, is just a boy who wants a father, so when the Sergeant gets taken away from him, Joe is devastated. Joe is willing to cry and hang on to the Sergeant for dear life. Eventually, it is not the many soldiers' gifts, but the promise of return that convinces Joe to let go. The next day, Joe is glowing and proud of his father and excited for the day he will return. Joe is so preoccupied with these thoughts that he does not seem to notice that he is the envy of all the other orphans.
The Sisterappears in D. P.
The sister who pays special attention to Joe is kind and motherly. She walks at the end of the line during strolls and often end up talking to Joe. She seems interested in his development and wants him to grow into a sensible person. She tries to dissuade him from listening to Peter, the orphanage bully. She also tells him not to believe rumors that his father is in town. She understands that many things people say to Joe are motivated by his race.
Sergeantappears in D. P.
The Sergeant is a "massive brown man," who works in the American army. His unit is passing through the village in which Joe lives. He seems large as the ceiling and wider than the door to Joe. He is also kind; he picks up Joe when he finds him in the woods. He also gives Joe chocolate. He is very bemused when Joe only speaks German. Though also black, he also judges Joe by his skin color. For a while he cannot believe that Joe does not speak English.
The Sergeant is faced with a tough situation when Joe will not let go of him. He is frightened by how hard Joe clings to him. He also feels bad because he did not mean to make Joe think he is his father. The Sergeant does not have parental instincts to help him out of the situation. It is only with the Lieutenant's help that he figures out how to ease Joe off him.
Lieutenantappears in D. P.
The lieutenant is very intelligent. He is also black, though physically smaller than the Sergeant. He is the only member of his company that speaks German. He is very astute and quickly discerns where Joe came from and why he followed the troops. He is impressed by Joe's roundabout answers to the questions he asks. He jokes that Joe will grow up to be a lawyer one day.
The Lieutenant show real depth of character in the way he deals with Joe's melt down. He remains calm as Joe cries and continues to speak to Joe rationally. He tries his best not to mislead Joe but does promise to try to come back for him. The Lieutenant succeeds in calming Joe.
Corporal Jacksonappears in D. P.
Is the soldier the Lieutenant puts in charge when he leaves to drive Joe home. He is kind and particularly concerned that Joe will get in trouble when he is returned to the orphanage. He really wants the people there to know that Joe was a good boy and well behaved.
Peterappears in D. P.
Peter is the oldest orphan. He is a very bitter 14-year-old. He remembers his family and the war. He also remembers having more food and a real home. He seems to take out his frustration and sadness on other kids. He lies to Joe about Joe's parents and tries to pick fights with him. He also refuses to believe that Joe really met his dad.
Village Carpenterappears in D. P.
The carpenter is very playful. He loves to watch the children on their daily walk. His play, though, is slightly prejudiced. He decides which nationality each child is based on their looks. He is particularly interested in Joe. This is presumably because of Joe's race. Like everyone else, the carpenter is astounded at the sight of a black boy who speaks German. He nicknames him "Joe Louis," after the boxer. The carpenter does not seem to have an awareness of how his teasing might affect the mind of a 6-year-old. When he tells Joe his "father" is here, the carpenter is clearly kidding. Joe does not know this.
Young Mechanicappears in D. P.
The mechanic is the carpenter's side kick. He also likes to sit and watch the orphans walk by, guessing their country of origin.
Soldiersappears in D. P.
The soldiers are a group of Americans moving through American-occupied Germany. They are brash and loud. When Joe shows up, they are delighted and confused. They cannot understand how a black boy could end up in Germany. They take a liking to Joe, though. When Joe has to leave, they shower him in gifts. They seem genuinely moved by Joe's tears.
Orphansappears in D. P.
The orphans are children of many different nationalities who lost their families in the war. They are taken care of by a group of nuns, and they live in a small village in Germany. They do not have much, but they are well looked after.
Narratorappears in Report on the Barnhouse Effect
The narrator is a graduate student who worked with Professor Barnhouse at Wyandotte College. He was attaining his PhD at the time. The narrator seems very reasonable and down to earth. When Barnhouse first shows him the dice trick, the narrator is not especially impressed. When Barnhouse finally reveals his mental powers, the narrator is shocked and excited. The narrator is less a distinctive character and more of a window into the story of the more interesting person, Arthur Barnhouse. We need the narrator to learn about the events of the story, but he keeps his opinions about these events out of his narration.
The narrator gets more interesting right at the end of the tale, when we learn that he, too, has discovered how to use the Barnhouse Effect. Suddenly, this character that is taken for granted becomes integral to the ending of the story. The narrator, a single bachelor with some money saved away, is easily able to go into hiding. Now that he had the Barnhouse Effect in his control, he will have to. He pledges to continue on Barnhouse's mission of world peace and disarmament for many years.
Arthur Barnhouseappears in Report on the Barnhouse Effect
Barnhouse is a weary, middle-aged man with incredible mental abilities. With only his mind, he can destroy objects at great distances. In "operation brainstorm," he destroyed a whole fleet of ships, airplanes and tanks at the same time. Barnhouse is a reasonable, peace-loving man. He hopes to use his psychic powers for world betterment. The government has other plans for his powers, though. When General Barker tries to push Barnhouse around, the normally mild-mannered Professor lashes out. He secretly decides to escape the government's clutches. This shows real strength of character.
Barnhouse decides to live out the rest of his days in hiding, mentally destroying the world's weapons. It is the triumph of a peace-loving individual over the war-mongering governments of the world. However, this state cannot last forever. As the narrator points out, Barnhouse comes from short-lived stock. It is likely he will pass away in less than ten years. Until then, though, it seems he is content to live alone and destroy weapons. He was always a solitary man.
General Honus Barkerappears in Report on the Barnhouse Effect
The General is one of the government officials assigned to investigate Barnhouse's powers. He is extremely excited and pushy. He desperately wants the thought sequence that is the key to the Barnhouse Effect and will stop at nothing to get it. He is frustrated that Barnhouse is not cooperating with him. He wished he did not need Barnhouse to wield Barnhouse's powers. On the day of "Operation Brainstorm," the General is excited and eager. He does not notice that Barnhouse seems particularly taciturn. He also does not notice when Barnhouse walks right out of the compound. The disappearance of Barnhouse makes the General highly distraught. The Professor was his charge and he lost him.
William K. Cuthrellappears in Report on the Barnhouse Effect
Cuthrell is a representative of the State Department. He is sent to Virginia to investigate Barnhouse. He, like the General, would like Barnhouse to reveal the secret to his powers. Unlike the General, he is not forceful or abrasive. However, he does not take Barnhouse seriously when Barnhouse wants to use the powers for peace. He implies that Barnhouse is naïve. When Barnhouse escapes, Cuthrell seems relatively calm. He gives off the impression of a man who has worked in government long enough to have seen everything.
Soldiersappears in Report on the Barnhouse Effect
The soldiers are a raucous group who Barnhouse is stationed with during World War Two. They are all gambling in the barracks when Barnhouse rolls ten sevens in a row. One of them calls Barnhouse "hotter'n a two-dollar pistol."
Dean of Social Studiesappears in Report on the Barnhouse Effect
The Dean assigns the narrator to Barnhouse for thesis advising. He apologizes and calls the appointment temporary. He knows that Barnhouse is spacey and a less-than-desirable adviser.
The Narratorappears in The Euphio Question
A professor of Sociology at Wyandotte College. The Narrator has been asked to testify before the FCC regarding the Euphiophone machine. He is married with a child and is generally a nice guy. He talks in a casual tone throughout most of the story. Recounting the beginning of the Euphio, he admits that he was initially driven by greed. He encouraged Fred to make the first Euhpio. He also honestly recounts the feeling of the two-day euphoria binge on which he and the others went. Coming out of that binge was such a let down that his wife looked like "Medusa" to him.
Ultimately, the reality of the Euphio became clear to the narrator, and he chose to help destroy it. In the FCC meeting, he tries very hard to make clear the dangers of the device. He uses strong language and speaks forcefully about Lew's shortcomings as a human. The problem, though, is too big for one man to fight. Lew has rigged the Euphio in the FCC meeting room to come on during the meeting. The narrator ends his tale in a Euphio-induced state.
Lew Harrisonappears in The Euphio Question
A radio DJ with his own show. He has Fred Bockman onto the show to discuss his astronomical finds. This is where the euphoric radio signal is first played. Lew is excited by the radio signal and immediately sees a way to package it and sell it. Driven solely by money, Lew pushes Fred to make the first Euphio. After its two-day test, Lew is obsessed about making more of them. He is full of many, many ideas about the various ways the radio waves can be broadcast and marketed. Even when the narrator and Fred jump ship, Lew is determined in his plan. His love of money is absolute. He finds new scientists and makes his own version of the Euphio. He is willing to do anything to get his machine approved for the mass market... including planting a Euphio machine in the FCC meeting room.
Fred Bockmanappears in The Euphio Question
Fred is a physicist at Wyandotte College. He listens to the sounds of outer space through a huge radio transmitter. He discovered the signal from space that creates Euhporia when rebroadcast. He plays this on Lew's radio show and makes the whole town euphoric. Fred is an upstanding man, with a wife, Marion. Fred is driven by a love of science. Fred first goes along with Lew's plan out of scientific curiosity. Later on, after the two day experiment, he helps the narrator destroy the Euphio.
Susanappears in The Euphio Question
Susan is the Narrator's wife. When the first radio signal broadcast occurs, she spends the day lying on the couch, where the narrator finds her. She heard the program and was euphoric for hours afterwards. She is a good mother to their son, Eddie, except during the Euphio test. During those two days, like everyone else, she giggles and lies around the house in thoughtless bliss.
Eddieappears in The Euphio Question
Eddie is the narrator and Susan's son. He likes baseball. He is grouchy about having to miss his practice for the Euphio test. When the machine switches on, he becomes complacent and agreeable.
Marionappears in The Euphio Question
Marion is Fred's wife. She is normally uptight. She is upset when Eddie plays with a ball inside the house right before the Euphio experiment. Afterwards, she does not care about that or anything else.
The Milkmanappears in The Euphio Question
He is an old man who gets stuck in the house during the Euphio experiment. His milk truck is left parked in the middle of the street.
The State Trooperappears in The Euphio Question
A middle-aged man, who stops by the house during the Euphio test. He comes inside to find the owner of the milk truck. He stays after hearing the Euphio.
Boy Scouts and Their Parentsappears in The Euphio Question
A troop stops by collecting newspapers but get stuck after hearing the Euphio. Their parents come looking for them and also stay.
Western Union Boyappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
A telegram delivery boy who gets stuck in the house during the test.
Narratorappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
The narrator is a middle-aged window and bathroom enclosure installer. He has a very laid-back narrative style and speaks in conversational sentences. He is from a small town in New Hampshire and unfamiliar with the Hollywood ways of Gloria Hilton and George Murra. He is very polite and almost brotherly to George, especially when George unloads his personal history on him. The two men bond in an intimate discussion, helped along by a bottle of bourbon. The narrator does not pretend to understand things that he does not. He just gives George sound, down-home advice.
The narrator is a great father and husband. He does accidentally come home drunk and upset his wife. He raves on about Gloria Hilton and falls asleep in the bathtub. His marriage, however, is strong and his wife forgives him quickly. His son also respects him. The narrator seems to balance the demands of work and home quite nicely.
George Murraappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
George is a 35-year-old writer from LA. He was asked to turn one of his novels into a screenplay, which is how he met Gloria Hilton. She swept him off his feet right as he was feeling insecure about his marriage. George is a conflicted man. In the middle of a midlife crisis, he decided to ditch his wife and son. Now, seeing Gloria for who she really is, he regrets his decisions.
George is fully capable of admitting he made a mistake. He begs his son's and wife's forgiveness. When his son resists, George almost gives up. He feels so guilty about his actions, he does not feel he can be stern with his son. The narrator sets him straight, though, and George gives his son a polite butt kicking. The boy, happy to have his father back, listens to what George has to say. This leads to their reconciliation. George's wife soon follows suit. George is genuinely happy to have his family back.
Gloria Hiltonappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
Gloria is an aging Hollywood actress who has been married 5 times. She is vain. She asks that her likeness be sand-blasted onto her new shower doors. She is full of emotion and convinced that her current husband, George, is not nearly as in touch with his emotions. She accuses him of not being able to love. Gloria is melodramatic in their fight, which the narrator overhears. She impulsively ends her marriage to George, then drives out of town ten minutes later.
Harry Crockerappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
A plumber in the small town. He chats with the narrator when the narrator gets a cup of coffee. Harry is mildly lecherous and makes a lewd joke about Gloria. He then sees her careening out of town at 200 miles per hour.
Johnappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
George Murra's son. He is fifteen and furious at his father. He keeps his cool externally, though. He both dresses and acts like a very old man. He says that when his father left, he had to become man of the house. He has sworn never to forgive his father for leaving. John attends a boarding school near the New Hampshire town. He is tricked into visiting George when George calls and says there has been a family emergency. At first unwilling to listen to George, John eventually relents when George gives him a swift kick in the butt. John slowly melts as he realizes his father is serious about getting the family back together. In the end, he cries with his father, happy to have him back.
George's Wifeappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
George's first wife. They were married when he was 18. She was left when George went off with Gloria. George says she could be naggy, but the reader is not sure if this is true or hearsay. She seems very happy to have George back at the end of the story. She is quick to forgive him.
The Narrator's Wifeappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
Married to the narrator when they were teens. She has a good sense of humor. When the narrator falls asleep in the bathtub, drunk, she covers him with bubble bath. She also knows how to make him sweat. The next day, she goes off alone and comes home late. She ultimately cares about him, though, forgiving him for his drunken debauchery quickly.
Narrator's Sonappears in Go Back to You Precious Wife and Son
A teenage boy who tries to give his dad lip. The narrator threatens to give a swift kick in the butt. The boy quiets down after that.
David Potterappears in Deer in the Works
David is a twenty-nine-year-old husband and father. His wife, Nan, just gave birth to their second set of twins. David owns and runs his own small town newspaper and has done so for eight years. He loves his work and is well-loved in the town and makes adequate money. However, David is panicked at his rapidly-expanding family and decides to take the job at Illium Works because he believes it will be better for his future security.
David is clearly an intelligent and happy person. His nerves get the best of him at the beginning of the story, and Dilling and Flammer take full advantage of it. He takes the job and excitedly tells his wife about the benefits, which to the reader and to Nan do not sound very impressive at all.
Over the course of the story, David is bounced around from one side of the Works to the other, trying to find the deer that has gotten loose so he can prove himself to Flammer by getting the story. The reader sympathizes with David and wants him to quit immediately, which is what he ultimately does.
Nan Potterappears in Deer in the Works
Nan is David's wife. She just gave birth to twins. She is the voice of reason in the midst of the frenzy of the Works and of David's panic. Nan convinces David to at least wait to sell his paper until he has been at the Works long enough to be sure. David brushes aside her doubts, but ultimately, her voice seems to stay with him, as he clearly agrees with her in the end. Nan shows a deep love for her husband by identifying what makes him happy and fighting for him to keep it in his life, even in the face of financial struggle.
Lou Flammerappears in Deer in the Works
Lou Flammer is David's supervisor. He is close to David's age and, like Dilling, wears a surface personality at the Works. His attitude changes drastically when he finds out David is not the scoutmaster with whom he was expecting to meet. He becomes immediately gruff. He tells David about the rating-sheet system at the Works and about his own rise to prominence. He believes each man must look out for himself first in order to get ahead. Flammer goes into a frenzy when he finds out about the deer in the Works. He sends David away to get the story as if it is the most important thing ever to happen in the Works. Flammer is disingenuous; he plays the character he needs to play depending on the situation. He also plans to kill the deer after using it as a publicity stunt while it is still alive.
Mr. Dillingappears in Deer in the Works
Mr. Dilling is the man who interviews David and then gives him the job. He is about the same age as David. He tells David the advertising and publicity field is competitive, but that people who know what they are doing will go far.
Fifty-Year Manappears in Deer in the Works
This old man shows David to Lou Flammer's office. On the way, he tells David he is one of few fifty-year men, since now it is impossible to stay that long at that Works—the rules won't allow it. This man provides some foreshadowing into the inconsistencies of the Works' promises.
Workersappears in Deer in the Works
The workers in general are in a state of confused frenzy. They run around the Works, many of them lost, none of them able to help David.
Doctor Remenzelappears in The Lie
The father of Eli and husband of Sylvia. He went to Whitehall Academy thirty years before. He has always been rich and because of that is full of propriety. He does not want to flaunt his richness. He is a doctor because he has a sincere desire to help others. He believes in democratic ideals, such as advancement based on merit. He is okay with the Africans attending Whitehall because they all passed the entrance examination.
Doctor Remenzel is generous and gives back to causes that matter to him, such as Whitehall. He assumes Eli will go there, to the point that he did not inquire into Eli's examination score. When he learns that Eli did not get in, he goes berserk. The doctor does not pause to collect himself; he immediately heads off to find the Board of Overseers and ask them to reverse their decision. He is so distraught that he does not realize that this will later embarrass him. The Board members all say no. This incident seems to shake Doctor Remenzel to his core. Eli's disappointment in him adds fuel to the fire. The story ends with the doctor feeling quite confused and dejected, having to reassess all of his assumptions about himself and his family.
Sylvia Remenzelappears in The Lie
The doctor's wife. She is a country girl who does not come from money. Even after being married to the doctor 16 years, she is still openly excited and interested in the ways of rich families. She has endless questions about Whitehall and the Remenzels. She is slightly fussy about Eli, hoping he has a room with a fireplace and no African roommates. It seems as though she would be the parent most likely to ask the school for special treatment of Eli. When the lie comes out, though, Sylvia's first thought is, "Poor Eli." She feels horrible that he felt he had to lie. She immediately finds him and mothers him quite well.
Eli Remenzelappears in The Lie
Eli is a teenager with a secret. He failed the entrance examination into Whitehall and tore up the rejection letter. He tried to tell his parents several times, but did not know how. Now he is driving to Whitehall with them and still has not told them. When the Whitehall headmaster comes into the place they are eating dinner, it is all finally too much and Eli bolts. Once his family knows, he feels a lot better. He can even smile. It is only his father's decision to beg for his admittance that still bothers Eli.
Ben Barkleyappears in The Lie
The Remenzel chauffeur. A fast driver and jovial guy. He tries to cheer up Eli when he notices he is down.
Tom Kilyerappears in The Lie
An old classmate of Dr. Remenzel's. He wrote the school song, back in their day. He is bringing his son to Whitehall.
Tom's Sonappears in The Lie
About to attend Whitehall. He has the highest entrance examination score of any boy.
Dr. Donald Warrenappears in The Lie
The Whitehall headmaster. He was forced to write the hardest letter in the world—letting the Remenzels know that Eli was not accepted. Even harder, he ends up having to tell them this in person. He is very cordial and apologetic. Dr. Warren's concern is that the boy will suffer unduly by being forced to work at Whitehall standards.
Narratorappears in Unready to Wear
A man who is amphibious—he has left his body. He did this back when he was middle aged. His body was short and chubby. He ran a pay-toilet business. Sometimes, even though he knows it is silly, he borrows a body and visits his old business. Because he can remember what it was like to be in his body all the time, he cannot quite let go of that life. He says many other "oldys" feel that way, too. He is a good husband; he left his body originally because his wife was sick and wanted to leave hers. He says his wife is easier to get along with now. She is generally happier than she ever was in her old body. It was not much to look at, he admits, though he really loved her in it.
The narrator is generally laid back, as all amphibious people are. Life is a lot easier when one has no physical concerns. When he marches in the Pioneers Day parade—in a borrowed body—he is reminded how hard being in bodies can be. When he and Madge are captured, he shows his true strength when he is forced to make his case before the enemy. He is especially clever in they way he tricks them into letting him escape. Back out of body, he is peaceful again.
Madgeappears in Unready to Wear
Madge is the wife of the narrator. Her original body was dying, so she left it. After trying on her first loaner body (a blond bombshell type), she was happier in general. She still worries about her old house, though and goes back to clean it once a month. She likes being in bodies a lot, still. She likes to try on lots of different types. Many amphibious women do. When she is captured, she also proves quite strong. She talks back to the guards and stands up for her beliefs, like the narrator.
Dr. Ellis Konigswasserappears in Unready to Wear
The Doctor is the inventor of becoming amphibious. He believes this is the most important discovery in all of human history. He was always unhappy in his body growing up. He did not understand why it was necessary. The mind is the real human, and it is imprisoned in the flesh. As a mathematician, the Dr. was always very absentminded and "in his head." So much so, that one day he walked right out of his body. After figuring out exactly how he did this, he kept doing it and only spent time in his body so he could write a book about what he discovered. His book was rejected by 23 publishers. The 24th sold it and made millions. Other people started becoming amphibious. Now there are over a billion amphibious people.
The Doctor has not entirely given up bodies. Every year in the Pioneers Parade, the Doctor dons the body of a six-foot cowboy and impresses everyone by crushing beer cans with two fingers. The narrator describes him as child-like in his desire to impress others with this physical trick.
Parade Marshallappears in Unready to Wear
The Marshall yells at the narrator in the Pioneers Parade. Afterwards, when they are both out of body again, he is not mad.
Cocky, Young Majorappears in Unready to Wear
The Major is the first human to capture an amphibious. He is very excited about this.
Prosecutorappears in Unready to Wear
The prosecutor is blustery and upset during the trial. He firmly believes that amphibians are wrong in their way of life. He cannot figure out why the narrator will not admit this.
The Judgeappears in Unready to Wear
The Judge is incensed when the narrator starts to describe how to become amphibious on TV. He also cannot stand it when the narrator calls amphibiousness, "the best thing that ever happened to humans." He bangs his gavel a lot.
George M. Heinholzappears in The Kid Nobody Could Handle
The band director at Lincoln High School. A nice, fat man about 40 and married. He loves music. He loves it absolutely and more than anything. He is sure that his band is the best band in the world. He is so sure of this that he has convinced the school board and everyone else to buy them the best uniforms and instruments they can. Heinholz gives every ounce of himself to his band, and he is unshakable in his belief in the healing power of music. This all unravels, though, when Heinholz meets Jim. Jim is a brand of teenager Heinholz has not encountered. Jim's supreme apathy unsettles Heinholz. When he catches Jim defacing the school at night, Heinholz is downright sickened. He is at a loss about how to help Jim. All he can do is offer up his most prized possession—the John Phillip Sousa trumpet. When Jim begins to crack a little, Heinholz is there to catch him. He holds Jim close and he takes Jim's boots. He will not give them back because "they are bad for him."
The next day, Heinholz is optimistic again, until he sees Jim is apathetic again. When Quinn says he is throwing Jim out, this is the last straw for Heinholz. He goes berserk, destroying his trumpet. "Life is no damn good," he says. This is near heresy for Heinholz, but he means it at that moment. Seeing this great man crumble changes both Jim and Quinn. In the end, with Jim now in the band, Heinholz is subdued but optimistic again. He still believes in the power of music to "make the world more beautiful than it was when we came into it."
Bert Quinnappears in The Kid Nobody Could Handle
A sour, bitter bachelor. He owns the local diner, and he had Jim thrust upon him by his sister. Quinn swindled Heinholz out of some money, but Heinholz does not seem to care. Quinn's personality switches between morose and arrogant. His only interest seems to be in making money. He does not know what to do with Jim and plans to rule him with an iron fist. When Jim destroys the chemistry lab, Quinn plans to throw him out. After seeing Heinholz's episode, though, Quinn has a surprising change of heart.
Jim Donniniappears in The Kid Nobody Could Handle
Jim is a 15-year-old kid from the wrong side of the tracks. His mom dies. His dad remarried Quinn's sister, then left him with her. Quinn's sister put him in foster care, then sent him to live with Quinn. Jim has responded to all of this by becoming completely apathetic. Nothing gets in. He seems to only take joy in polishing his boots. He ignores Heinholz's friendly advances, blowing smoke rings in his face instead.
Jim takes some perverse joy in destroying the school. He says the place need to be turned on its side. This argument crumbles, though, when Heinholz hands Jim his trumpet. Jim is not sure what do if an adult is not mad at him. Jim further buckles when Heinholz removes his boots. Jim is shaken to the core. This does not stick right away, though. The next day, Jim is apathetic and pretending that the previous night did not happen. Heinholz's second episode—destroying the trumpet—is what really wakes up Ji. He joins the band and dares to be a little hopeful about life.
Mikhail Ivankovappears in The Manned Missiles
Mikhail is a stone mason from the U.S.S.R. His son, Stepan, was killed in space during an altercation with Bud Ashland. Mikhail writes a letter to Bud's father, Charles, in a gesture of respect, goodwill and understanding. Mikhail is forty-nine years old and bases his understanding and support of space exploration solely on his son Stepan's convictions. To Mikhail, Stepan's thoughts and actions were beautiful, and he remains proud of everything his son did in life. Mikhail struggles to understand why man wants to use space as a tool for war and why the world wants to use his son's death to fuel a conflict. He writes to Ashland to connect with someone he imagines is in a similar position. He also writes to tell Ashland about his son and to let Ashland know that he, Mikhail, does not blame Bud Ashland for what happened.
Mikhail is apparently uneducated. He lives with the ridicule and dismissing of his younger son, Alexei, and with the status of an old man in a world moving quickly forward. His letter shows, however, that his soul is deep and wise.
Charles Ashlandappears in The Manned Missiles
Charles is a petroleum merchant from Florida. He owns and lives above his own gas station, which he built with his son. Like Mikhail, Charles writes of his son, Bud, with intense love and respect. He returns Mikhail's letter with the same spirit of desperate hope, in the future and in his son's memory. Charles doesn't know why people call Bud a killer. He describes Bud's passion for flying and, like Mikhail, recognizes his son as someone who was uninterested in war. Charles writes gracefully, including several stories about Bud's childhood and early career. He writes with obvious pride and grief. Charles imagines their two boys existing forever in space, their remains orbiting the earth, meeting each other again and again. He returns Mikhail's gesture and looks to the future, though he doesn't know how the world can go on.
Narratorappears in EPICAC
The narrator, who remains unnamed, is a mathematician working as an operator for EPICAC. He enters the problems the government tells him to and then decodes the answers and responses EPICAC spits out. The narrator asserts that EPICAC is more than just a machine, apparently based on his experience with EPICAC and love. He continually refers to EPICAC as "he" instead of "it."
The narrator is in love with Pat. He is unable to express his love adequately enough to win her until he enlists the help of EPICAC and passes EPICAC's poetry off as his own. While this does help him win Pat, he soon realizes that EPICAC is also in love with Pat. When the narrator speaks with EPICAC about man vs. machine, it is a chilling scene. Even through the first person (and presumably biased) narration, the reader senses that the narrator is turning on EPICAC. He either now believes that EPICAC is only a machine and not worth the trouble of tact or sensitivity, or he has backed off his earlier assertion that EPICAC was more than a machine, now that that view is no longer convenient. When EPICAC short circuits, the narrator has already gotten all that he wants from him. He speaks of EPICAC at the end as if he were an old adversary, to be respected and missed.
EPICACappears in EPICAC
The only machine in this collections list of characters, EPICAC forms a relationship with the human narrator over the course of the story. At the beginning, EPICAC is working well, but not well enough. It is not until EPICAC begins to talk about human emotion, love and poetry that he starts running quickly and smoothly. EPICAC is built to give and not take, and that is what he does. He devotes all energy to the Pat problem, and when it is solved, and he finds out that he was not writing to Pat so much as for the narrator, he essentially dies of a broken heart.
Patappears in EPICAC
Pat is a mathematician who makes the narrator pursue her until she is satisfied with his romance quotient. It takes EPICAC to write poetry beautiful enough to make her pay attention to the narrator and eventually to become engaged to him. Pat goes from being confident and dismissive and professional to coquettish and bashful. According to the narrator's account, at least, she exhibits more womanly qualities only after a computer makes love to her.
Dr. von Kleigstadtappears in EPICAC
Dr. von Kleigstadt is the designer of EPICAC. He has been hired by the government to do the job. He is furious and devastated when EPICAC is ruined. He grovels in the wreckage, weeping, and fires the narrator for leaving EPICAC on all night long.
The Brass/The Governmentappears in EPICAC
The Brass is the military. The government is in charge of creating and maintaining EPICAC for the Brass's use in war and defense.
Heinz Knechtmannappears in Adam
Heinz is twenty-two years old and works in a dry-cleaning plant. He is described as looking older than his age. He has been through a lot in his life. Everyone in his family has been killed in the Holocaust. He and his wife have already lost one child during childbirth. Heinz is ultimately a good, kind person, which shows on his face.
When Heinz's baby is born, Heinz is beside himself with excitement. He is beaming. It takes one-sided interactions with several people who don't care about his baby and don't want to hear his excitement to dampen Heinz's spirit. He does not fit in with any of the people he meets that night. Mr. Sousa and the bartender already have seven and eight children, respectively. They laugh at Heinz's wonder. Harry, Heinz's coworker, and Harry's girl, treat Heinz like an outsider and don't have time for him. Heinz's defeat is complete by the time he gets home that night. His excitement about the miracle of life has been rejected time and again. When he goes to see his wife in the morning, all of his animation is gone. He answers Avchen, whom he loves intensely, with only the word "Yes," again and again. It is unclear whether Avchen's joy will re-infect Heinz or not.
Avchen Knechtmannappears in Adam
Avchen is Heinz's wife. She has already given birth to a child that died in the relocation camp in Germany. Avchen grew up, like Heinz, in a concentration camp. Heinz adores her. Avchen has a difficult labor, which takes over twelve hours and involves complications. It is Avchen, who, at the end of the story, offers Heinz a ray of hope in the bleak world he has experienced. She is joyful and awestruck at the arrival of her child, and brings Heinz's awareness back to the enormity of their accomplishment, to have lived through so much and now to have renewed life once again.
Mr. Sousaappears in Adam
Mr. Sousa is in the waiting room with Heinz at the beginning of the story. The nurse comes out to inform Mr. Sousa that his wife has delivered a baby girl, their seventh girl. Sousa is upset that he has been denied a son, yet again. It is implied that Sousa is a large man, and he is described as a "sullen gorilla." When Heinz sees him again at the bar, Sousa is jealous of Heinz's baby boy. He, along with the bartender, lament their many children and ridicule Heinz for looking on birth as a miracle. Sousa finally abandons Heinz to talk to the bartender about baseball.
Nurse (waiting room)appears in Adam
The nurse who tells Heinz and Sousa about their babies is businesslike and efficient. Her words to Heinz about his wife's long delivery are stale and overused.
Nurse (nursery)appears in Adam
The nurse who shows Heinz his new baby through the glass refuses to make eye contact with Heinz and refuses to share in this giant moment with him. She does not smile once. She is described as "fat and placid." She takes the baby away again without ceremony.
Dr. Powersappears in Adam
Dr. Powers is a young man with red hair. He comes out to congratulate Heinz but mixes things up and refers to Sousa's wife's delivery instead of Heinz's. It is an honest mistake but adds to Heinz's series of disenchanting and impersonal interactions following his child's birth.
Bartenderappears in Adam
The bartender is similar to Sousa, who is drinking at his bar. When Heinz talks about babies and childbirth, the bartender sides with Sousa in laughing at him. The bartender has eight children and doesn't care to hear about the miracle of life. He gives up on Heinz completely when he learns that Heinz doesn't follow baseball.
Harryappears in Adam
Harry is Heinz's co-worker at the dry-cleaning plant. He is a young man and apparently good-looking. Heinz interrupts Harry's date with a girl to tell him his good news. Harry is polite but does not care about Heinz and doesn't hide it well. His handshake is unsatisfying.
Harry's Girlappears in Adam
Harry's girl is with Harry when Heinz approaches to announce the birth of his son. She is suspicious of Heinz at first, then disdainful.
Lou Schwartzappears in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Lou is Emerald's husband and is one hundred and twelve years old. He lives with his wife and twelve other couples, including his parents and his son, in his grandfather's one-bedroom apartment. Lou looks on the bright side of things, especially when Em is feeling down. He believes people should be able to choose when to give up anti-gerasone, and he takes no intentional action to unseat Gramps from his position of authority. Lou does indulge with Em in imagining what it was like in the past, with restaurants and cars and countryside. But as it is, he goes to work every day and comes home tired and sleeps on the floor or on the daybed, with no privacy or authority. When he catches Morty diluting Gramps' anti-gerasone, Lou is conflicted. He decides not to tell Gramps because if he knew he would punish everyone in the apartment. But he never considers letting Gramps drink the diluted potion. He instead tries to secretly refill the bottle. Lou also does not put up a fight when his father, Willy, claims the bedroom for himself. It is Em who defends Lou's position, saying he deserves privacy because he works all day every day.
Emerald Schwartzappears in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Emerald is Lou's wife and is ninety-three years old. Emerald is very dissatisfied with life, and at the beginning of the story is venting to Lou about how she thinks it should be: anti-gerasone should not be sold to people over age one hundred and fifty. She longs for real food, and most of all, for some space and privacy. She wants to dilute Gramps' anti-gerasone. She resents the way Gramps controls the household. When Gramps leaves the apartment to everyone and Willy tries to take over, Emerald speaks out in favor of Lou (and, by extension, herself) getting the bedroom. Emerald ends up very contented in her prison cell.
Gramps Schwartzappears in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Gramps Schwartz, the patriarch of the Schwartz family and owner of the apartment, is one hundred and seventy-two years old. He was seventy when anti-gerasone was invented, so he looks older than everyone else. He dominates the apartment by adjusting his will to favor the people who are currently following his rules. Gramps gets real food, the only private bedroom and control of the television. He bosses the whole house around and indulges in his own speeches and emotion, especially when he changes his will to take Lou out of it.
Gramps both outsmarts and saves his family in the end, by making sure they stay in prison so he can have the house to himself. Though he has been claiming for years that he will soon give up the anti-gerasone, he clearly has no intention of doing so at the end of the story. On the contrary, he is getting ready to order super-anti-gerasone, which will make him look young as well as continue to keep him alive. The change in Gramps when all his relatives are gone is remarkable: he is not mean-faced anymore, and he is much more relaxed and hopeful.
Mortimer Schwartzappears in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Morty is one of the younger members of the Schwartz family. He is a newlywed,and very much resents the type of life he is forced to lead. He dilutes Gramps' anti-gerasone, in the hopes that Gramps will then be able to die a natural death and leave the apartment to him. When Gramps disappears and leaves the apartment to everyone equally, Morty fights Willy for claim to the private bedroom on the grounds that he just got married and should be on his honeymoon.
Eddie Schwartzappears in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Eddie is the son of Emerald and Lou. He is seventy-three and generally apathetic and unhappy. He argues that he should get the private bedroom because he has never known privacy; whereas, his parents had some when they were little.
Willy Schwartzappears in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Willy Schwartz is Lou's father. When Gramps leaves, Willy is the oldest person in the house, and Gramps' current favorite. Willy decides this is grounds for him to claim the private bedroom and take over the house.
Turnkeyappears in Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
The turnkey is the guard at the prison who warns the Schwartzes that he will never let them back in if they ever divulge to the world how nice it is in jail.
This section contains 16,505 words
(approx. 56 pages at 300 words per page)