Character List

Philip Montel: Philip is the charismatic proprietor of Lone Pine. Although he is both wealthy and educated, Philip is defined most prominently by his interest in ornithology. As husband to Alice, father to Jane, and brother to Lucie, he bridges most of the interactions in the core narrative Montel. Philip additionally appears in the 1952 frame narrative as an ailing older man who frequently contemplates his family and a desire to be closer to nature.

Alice Montel: Alice Montel is wife to Philip and mother to Jane. She is beautiful and bewitching in physicality, distant and reserved in demeanor, and unhappy with her role as a domesticated wife and mother. It is suggested that she has an affair with Pat Chelsey and might abandon her family to pursue this relationship; however, she ultimately decides not to leave Philip. When Pat develops a relationship with Ingeborg following their suggested affair, Alice helps the couple flee Lone Pine for Chicago. Alice dies sometime before the beginning of the frame narrative.

Jane Montel: Jane Montel is the young daughter of Philip and Alice. She vacillates between naiveté and impudence while displaying her fondness for Philip and a desire for closeness with her mother despite her frigid demeanor. In the frame narrative, it is noted that Jane becomes estranged from Philip as an adult and dies after moving to Italy.

Richard (Dick) Huntington: Dick Huntington is Alice’s brother. He is suggested to be morally corrupt, despite his angelic appearance with wavy blonde hair and a childlike smile. Dick exhibits increasingly drunk and reckless behaviors, which prompt Alice to abandon him by the end of the core narrative.

Pat Chelsey: Pat Chelsey is a mathematician and professor at the University of Chicago. He is deeply in love with Alice and resentful toward Philip for marrying her. It is suggested that Pat and Alice consummate their relationship and have an affair before Alice resolves not to leave Philip. Subsequently, Pat convinces Ingeborg Sondegaard to marry him and leave Lone Pine for Chicago. The pair successfully flee Lone Pine unnoticed with Alice’s assistance.

Lucie Montel: Lucie Montel is Philip’s younger sister. She returns to Lone Pine in 1912 after maintaining a women’s hat shop in Chicago with financial success. Described by Philip to be both mature and independent, Lucie marries Thorvald Eckdahl in the core narrative and lives with him on Tanager Hill, property adjacent to Lone Pine. Lucie continues to tend to Philip in his old age and is stated to have several grandchildren by the 1952 frame narrative.

Thorvald Eckdahl: Thorvald Eckdahl, noted to be the son of a Swedish immigrant turned local real estate dealer, is a moral man with materialistic tendencies. Thorvald marries Lucie at the end of the core narrative. Between this time and the beginning of the 1952 frame narrative he becomes proprietor of Tanager Hill and Lone Pine.

Ingeborg Sondegaard: Ingeborg Sondegaard was orphaned as an infant when her mother died of tuberculosis and lives with her grandmother, Grandma Sondegaard, and uncle, Eric, on Lone Pine. She is described as unpredictable, volatile, and a “gypsy’s waif.”[1] Ingeborg claims to be Philip’s illegitimate sister and Philip suggests a personal, potentially romantic interest in her. In a quick turn of events, she agrees to run away to Chicago and elope with Pat at the end of the core narrative.

Grandma Sondegaard: Grandma Sondegaard lives with her son, Eric, and granddaughter, Ingeborg, on the Lone Pine property. Like Ingeborg, she is referred to as a “gypsy,” suggesting the prevalence of this culture throughout the Sondegaard family.

Eric Sondegaard: Eric Sondegaard is a skilled farmer and the caretaker of Lone Pine, proud of his farming abilities and close friendship with Philip.

Bessie: Bessie is the Montel family’s housekeeper and has a close relationship with Jane.


[1] The use of the term “gypsy” and resulting descriptions of “gypsy” culture was direct language used by Fornell in Montel as well as other projects like her play, The Gypsies Did It!, and short story, “Gypsy” (Gladys Fornell Papers, The Newberry Library, Chicago). “Gypsy” is considered derogatory to Romani culture in its contemporary use and a specific examination of this term might spotlight potential racial undercurrents in Montel; however, due to the scope and argument of this thesis, the implications of the term will only be addressed as needed to support further analysis. Moving forward, “gypsy” will be used in quotations, with the understanding that this was Fornell’s diction.