The story's protagonist, Charlie Wales, is less a victim of bad luck than of circumstance, both socio-economic and personal. Charlie does not deserve Marion's continued denial of custody of his daughter, but the story is less about what Charlie does or does not deserve than how easily one's life can spin out of control due to unforeseen circumstance.
Marion and Charlie dislike each other on a visceral level. Marion's feelings are not solely caused by Charlie's alcoholism and past behavior. She focuses upon Charlie a hatred borne of her resentment of her family's financial situation, as evidenced by Lincoln's comment to Charlie over lunch: "I think Marion felt there was some kind of injustice to it-you not even working toward the end, and getting richer and richer." (p. 15) Her hatred is also fueled by her physical illness and her unfounded belief that Helen's marriage to Charlie was not happy. When Charlie locked Helen out during a snowstorm and Helen later became ill from exposure, Marion felt ...
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