Character Descriptions in Ivan Doig’s The Whistling Season

Paul is both the adult narrator of the book and the child protagonist that plays the most important part in the story. Although his personality is still developing at the time the action of the novel takes place, Paul does have several remarkable features. Despite his obvious lack of experience in judging events and characters, he is mature for his age. When he stumbles on the secrets of Rose and Morrie’s past, he is able to administer his own emotions and make the right decision. Also, Paul has an extremely vivid imagination, which is fully manifested in the fantastic dreams that pursue him during the night and which he always remembers. He is moreover a very good brother, who protects his younger siblings. Paul has the ability to empathize with the people around him. He is wise for his age and he knows how to take responsibility for his actions, although he is often puzzled by the discovery that life is made of paradoxes and that there are no clear answers to all the questions that arise.DamonDamon is a playful and adventuresome young boy. Keen on exploring as much of the world as he can, he is always playing a game or devising a plan. Of the three brothers, Damon is the most inquisitive and restless. When any of his brothers is confronted with a problem or a difficult situation, he always comes to their rescue. However, despite his young age, Damon can be very serious as well. When he and his brother discover Rose’s secret, he is ready to hold on to the secret and save the prospective marriage. Damon is endowed with a practical imagination, which helps him be a good craftsman.TobyToby is the youngest of the three brothers and still too young to actually have a personality. Unlike his older brothers, he still has his innocence and ingenuity. For instance, he is the only one of the three siblings who is still attached to Aunt Eunice. Similarly, he gets extremely fond of Rose and Morris as soon as they enter the family. He does not have the ability to discern and judge the character of the people who surround him and he is equally fond of most of the persons that become a part of his life. Paul significantly characterizes Toby as the character who was most representative of the life on the American prairie, in its purity and simplicity.OliverOliver Milliron, the boys’ father, is a widower who will become married to Rose at the end of the novel. Although he grieves over the death of his wife, he is capable to manage his feelings well and take good care of his children. He is a good father who communicates well with his three sons. The opening of the novel is edifying in this respect: the father discusses his decision about hiring a housekeeper with his children. He is fascinated with the expressivity of language and decides to hire Rose because he likes her humorous advertisement. In some matters therefore, Oliver is unpractical and slightly child-like.MorrieMorrie, first known to the Milliron family as Rose’s brother, is gradually developed as a character in the story. At first, he appears to be an eccentric, mysterious character, who, despite having successfully graduated from a prestigious university, does not hesitate to clean up the Millirons’ chicken coop, when he is asked by Rose. In many ways, Morris becomes a hero for the young Milliron boys. When Paul is punished by his father for participating in his dangerous horse race, it is Morris that puts the events in a new light. He defends Paul by showing his father that this was the boys’ way of testing his own limits and venturing into the unknown. Morris is a philosopher in his own right. His open-mindedness and his passion for thought make him a talented teacher as well. However, he does keep the secret of a darker and more adventurous past. Overall, he is an introvert and pensive character, but one who is also capable of playing a very important role in society.Aunt EuniceAunt Eunice is the old relative that the Milliron children have to visit on Sundays. She is mostly self-absorbed and unsympathetic. She eats frugally and often indulges in the recital of certain verses or poems. Focused on herself, she frequently reminds the family of the possibility of her death, waiting for them to deny it. The aunt is extremely critical of her son and of the three nephews as well. She is discontent most of the times and only expresses some affection for the innocent Toby, who cannot judge her.Eddie TurleyEddie Turley is the bully of the rural school and the boy that no one likes. However, his attitude is fed by the problems he has at home, with his family. He permanently teases and rejects the other boys and he is very lonely. However, the events of the novel show him to be dignified despite his humiliations at school.Marias CouleeMarias Coulee is a quiet rural community situated on a prairie in Montana. It is an isolated place, where people know each other closely.RoseThe most important female character in the novel, Rose is feminine and somewhat eccentric. She is extremely gay, enterprising and loving. She has her specific habits that she is very keen on maintaining at all odds. For instance, she is determined that she cannot and will not cook and she maintains her stance throughout the novel. She is willful and determined but, at the same time, a very sympathetic character who brings order and joy to the Milliron family.The Behavior of the Characters in The Whistling SeasonPaulThe behavior that suits Paul best is the one that he manifests towards the end of the novel, where he is able to reflect on the situation his family is in and be empathetic to the others’ feelings and motivations.DamonThe behavior that represents Damon best is that of an artisan: he is keen on devising plans and finding practical solutions for every difficult situation he encounters. For instance, to ward off a physical combat between Paul and Eddie, Damon designs a horse race instead, but one where the riders would have to mount backwards on their horses.TobyToby is an innocent and simple young boy, who is extremely fond of the people that surround him. He is best characterized by the unconditional love he gives to the other people.OliverOliver is characterized best by his role as a father. He is a caring parent, who manages to have a good friendship with his sons as well. His is sensitive to their emotional needs, as well as to the material ones. One example in the text is the moment when Toby, who had been injured, has to have the final appointment with his doctor. The rain that is pouring outside crushes, however, the young boy’s hopes of being liberated. In order to comfort his son in his disappointment, the father takes all the boys and goes to town to search for the doctor.MorrieMorrie is best represented by his role as a teacher. Although he makes plans to leave this profession by the end of the novel, he is still apt to have an impact on the life of the community. One minor but nevertheless significant example is the fact that he is the first to formulate a blunt answer to Aunt Eunice’s allusions to her approaching death.Aunt EuniceAunt Eunice is best characterized by her egocentrism. She is opinionated and impossible to please, as every interaction with the members of the family shows.Eddie TurleyEddie Turley is the epitome of the school bully, who disguises his own problems behind a tough appearance.RoseRose is best represented by her vivacity and eccentricity. She always takes exception of certain things, including her absolute refusal to cook. Once she settles in her new position at the Millirons’ she insists on setting her own rules. The Importance of Weather in The Whistling SeasonThe weather is a very important element in the life of the characters living on a prairie in Montana. As the novel opens, the author describes the ever present whistling of the wind in this area. The rather wild weather conditions of the place emphasize the importance of nature in the life of the small rural community. Other phenomena, such as heavy rains, are also noticeable since they usually make all the roads impracticable. The title of the novel, which contains the word “season”, also alludes to nature and its cyclic course. The world described in The Whistling Season is remembered with nostalgia because of the holistic if less modern life that the people used to lead there.Recollection and Reflection in The Whistling SeasonThe story of The Whistling Season is told through the mist of memory. As the author himself admits, the recollection of the events makes them at once less real and more available for understanding. Through the device of rememorizing the events of his childhood, the narrator is able both to describe some of his feelings and impression as a child and to reflect on them. He evokes his childhood years nostalgically but he is also able to shed more light on the occurrences and people from the past. Rather than merely narrating the story, the author offers his commentary as well.Whistling in The Whistling SeasonWhistling is one of Rose’s most remarkable habits. Moreover, the winds also whistle through the prairie. The word “season” in the title refers both to a delimited period of time and to an actual division of the year. The “whistling season” is thus a metaphor for the happy time of childhood as well as one for the changes that take place in the characters’ lives.Characteristics of The Whistling SeasonThe Whistling Season is a nostalgic novel, which looks back on childhood and on the life of people in the past. The light tone in which the novel is told emphasizes this idea. The author focuses much more on details regarding the characters’ lives and their interior transformations, rather than on developing a certain plot. Doig’s novel focuses on family relationships, with an emphasis on the closeness between the siblings and their father. Also, an important theme in the novel is that of education, both in the actual school room and in real life. All the characters have lessons to learn throughout the course of events. Finally, The Whistling Season focuses on changes and the way they affect human behavior and relationships within the family.