The Main Characters

May 2007

            These are 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.

            There are 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.