Babe is the youngest MaGrath sister. At the start of the play, she has shot her husband, Zackery, a powerful and wealthy lawyer. Eventually, she reveals that the shooting was the result of her anger at Zackery’s cruel treatment both of her and of Willie Jay, a fifteen year-old African American boy with whom Babe had been carrying on an affair. Babe makes two attempts to kill herself late in the play.
Lenny is the oldest MaGrath sister. Her sisters have forgotten her birthday, only compounding her sense of rejection. Lenny is frustrated after years of carrying heavy burdens of responsibility; most recently, she has been caring for Old Granddaddy. Lenny loves her sisters but is also jealous of them, especially Meg.
Meg is the middle sister. As an eleven year-old child, Meg discovered the body of their mother (and that of the family cat) following her suicide. This traumatic experience provoked Meg to test the boundaries of life wherever she could. At the beginning of the play Meg returns to Mississippi from Los Angeles, where her singing career has stalled and where, she later tells Doc, she had a nervous breakdown and ended up in the psychiatric ward of the county hospital.
The sisters’ first cousin. She is a very demanding relative, extremely concerned about the community’s opinion of her. When news is published of Babe’s shooting of Zackery, Chick’s primary concern is how she’s “gonna continue holding my head up high in this community.” Chick is critical of all aspects of the MaGrath’s family and is always bringing up past tragedies such as the mother’s suicide.
Barnette is Babe’s lawyer. An ambitious, talented attorney, Barnette views Babe’s case as a chance to exact his personal revenge on Zackery. “The major thing he did,” Barnette says, “was to ruin my father’s life.” Barnette also seems to have a strong attraction to Babe.
Doc is Meg’s old boyfriend. He is still known affectionately as “Doc” although his plans for a medical career stalled and eventually died after he was severely injured in Hurricane Camille—his love for Meg (and her promise to marry him) prompted him to stay behind with her while the rest of the town evacuated. Doc, who now has his own wife and children, nevertheless remains close to the MaGrath family. Although Meg abandoned him when she left for California, Doc remains fond of her.