the main characters that I see. Some
may not end up as important, and others may emerge in importance. In addition, of course, there will be minor
characters that enter the story from time to time. Accompanying this write-up is a table that portrays the ages and
birthdays of each character across the years of the novel.
others in the Kingman family whose ages in relationship to Robert, Micah and
Gregory I have yet to establish, as well as any personality characteristics
that might play upon Palouse, but here’s the list so far:
Micah Kingman – Micah, the principal character of Palouse,
is the adoptive son of the Kingman family.
He is brought to their farm in Eastern Washington at age 9 to join . He becomes intently dedicated to playing the
violin (or maybe trumpet) and shows a genius for it, especially with the help
of his adoptive mother, a piano teacher in learning the basics of and love for
music. With this extraordinary
dedication he proceeds from prize after prize to national recognition. Micah stays dedicated to his music until
about age 15, when his dedication breaks down as immaturity—a pent-up need to
be a child/teen-ager/sexual being—takes over.
David Stirling –
Besides the Kingman family, David, a fellow musician—competent but not a
genius—is one of the people who observes Micah’s growth and later downfall,
partly because he understands better than anyone else the inner workings of
Micah and partly because he is in love with him. David is gay and out. He is the person who returns Micah to his
genius music calling, and, as a consequence, wins Micah’s eternal love. David, while a student at Whitman College,
will encounter Micah when he is at Walla Walla College, a Seventh Day Adventist
institution, and their friendship will be rekindled into a relationship.
Betty Kingman – Betty’s character has been growing more and
more complex in my mind as I develop the story. Some of the changes arise from happenstance. When I decided to move the story in time so
that I could incorporate her son Robert Kingman from Jake’s Side, the only way
the time would fit would be to have him born when she was 17. The pregnancy in high school would have
interrupted any career she might have had in music, and it placed her squarely
involved in her religion—I think, Seventh Day Adventist—where she was destined
to raise lots of children. She takes
her religion seriously, which will cause problems later with homosexuality. Unfortunately, after her second or third child,
she is unable to have any more, so the only way to have many children is to
adopt, which she does. She chooses
mixed-race kids, which is how Micah came to her. She maintains her connection to music by teaching piano, but when
Micah comes, his ambition becomes hers.
Thus, Micah’s renunciation of his musical career has a personal
reverberation. Furthermore, when David
Stirling arrives at the end of Palouse with a bittersweet option—having Micah
resume his career if he maintains his relationship with David or losing Micah’s
career without David—she is torn between her religion and the career that she
lives through Micah.
Stanley Kingman -- Stanley’s
life was hard. He was married at 17
with a child on the way and one (two?) more coming in rapid succession. He scrimped to buy a farm and worked his butt
off to make it successful. In doing so,
he relied so heavily on his first born, Robert (from Jake’s Side), that at age
18, an alienated Robert left and never returned. When he returns in Palouse, with his life mate Sam Peterson,
Stanley rebels against his wife, who wants nothing to do with her son, and
refuses to let his son go a second time.
Robert Kingman – Kingman to Jake, he returns for a visit to
America to visit Jake and Robbie in Seattle, but decides to stop by Eastern
Washington on his way—with Sam Peterson, his life mate. In the Palouse he makes a connection with
Micah, recognizes his talent, and when in Seattle convinces Jake and Robbie to
become patrons to Micah.
Gregory Kingman – Gregory, also adopted, is Micah’s brother
and shares a bedroom with him. Gregory
will be the more traditional farm-community boy, whose expects to take over the
Kingman farm. Before Micah rebels,
Gregory is the wild one in the family and is constantly in danger of knocking
up his latest girlfriend, repeating Stanley’s “mistake.”
Jake and Robbie Ellis-Cantwell – From Jake’s Hand and Jake’s
Side, these two men enter Micah’s life in their support for his musical career
after an introduction by Robert Kingman.
At the end of the novel they will present Micah with a treasured musical
instrument as a “wedding gift.” During
trips to Seattle, Micah will stay with Jake and Robbie and learn what a stable
gay relationship entails.
Marty Newman – Marty (I’m not sure I like this name) is
Micah’s roommate in the remote school he is sent to in Idaho/Oregon/Montana
when his Betty and Stan seek a place to temper Micah’s rebellion. Marty has been sent to the school also for
his rebellion against his parents, but his rebellion is due in part to being
gay and in the closet. Micah, who
probably considers himself straight at this time, learns to like/love and
support Marty Newman, and in doing so learns about Marty’s sexual orientation
and the problems of being gay in a religious family. Marty may enter the story again
after the year in the school after being kicked out of his home and having to
live on the streets—with what that means for a gay teen-ager. Maybe he will commit suicide with Micah
piecing together the reasons afterward.