In both Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic and Dan Baum's Nine Lives the characters seem to display a feverish passion concerning their interests, but the way their passion is put to use is what distinguishes them, as well as our feelings towards them. While Hellman's depiction of Carrie Bernier's passion for Julian is impressive, the actions that stem from these feelings make us feel disconnected from the two, while simultaneously giving us a negative impression in regards to their morals. However, in Baum's novel, Wil Lawrence's passion for his community leads not only to the betterment of his own life, but allows him to drastically improve the lives of those around himself. This ability to improve the lives of others is what separates the characters in the two works, and ultimately allows us to better understand the Wil's actions and mindset. In contrast, we are extremely disconnected from Carrie, and cannot do anything but question her actions and morals, as her motives are purely selfish.
When Carrie Bernier is introduced in Hellman's Toys in the Attic, we initially view her as a well-to-do middle-aged woman who seems to have her head on straight. Clearly, this first impression does not tell the whole truth. Though Carrie's life seems to be in order, as she lives with her sister and as takes perfectly good care of herself, her morals regarding and feelings towards her brother Julian are extremely questionable and socially unacceptable. While all siblings obviously share a common love for one another, Carrie takes this to a whole new extreme. Instead of being satisfied with the typical loving, yet platonic, relationship shared amongst most siblings, Carrie seems to want more, both physically and mentally. Her desire for Julian, evidently, is not hidden, as Anna even brings up the controversial issue face to face with her when she states Don't you know what's the matter, don't you know? You want him and always have. Years ago I used to be frightened and I would watch you and suffer for you (Hellman 59).
[...] This early-instilled passion and drive sets him apart from many of the other characters within the book and leads to his later success throughout many aspects of his life. Wil is initially hired at the underprivileged Sarah T. Reed High School to direct their band, but the children he is placed in charge of initially seem to be living a dead end sort of life, as their home life is nearly nonexistent, and ultimately unstable, due to a lack of involvement from the children's parents. [...]
[...] The passion Wil instills in his kids is returned tenfold, as the children not only respect and worship him, but they consequently have a passion and work ethic for the band that is unparalleled by most of the schools they encounter. Wil is blown away by the children's passionate play, and their passion pushes him to continue to support them as well. This seems to create a never-ending cycle in which the children and Wil feed off of each other's drive for success. Success to Wil, however, is not just characterized by being a great musician. [...]
[...] Cyrus Warkins, the man from whom it could be said Julian basically stole all his money, as he was let in on an under-the-table business deal. This caused a great rift between the two, one which Carrie soon exploits. As Lily is talking to Mr. Warkins, he appears to have asked her where he can find Julian and Carrie takes full advantage of the opportunity when Lily asks her where Julian could be found. Carrie clearly knows that if Julian's whereabouts are known by Mr. [...]
[...] Understandably, this does nothing to alleviate Lily's already drastic concerns. This action however, makes it apparent that Carrie seems to have a sort of scheme to either bust up Julian Lily's marriage, or at least make life as hard as possible for the couple. This scheme appears to be Carrie's main goal throughout the play, and her passion for carrying it out is overwhelming. As the play progresses, her actions towards Lily become increasingly hostile and she continues to play with Lily's fragile mind and emotions, but all of this culminates into a final climax near the end of the play. [...]
[...] This plays right into Carrie's plan, but it does not result in Julian's leaving Lily. It was clear that he would not be leaving her, but Carrie's thoughts and actions were disfigured by passionate lust, and led her to do things that even she probably would look down upon. Her actions come across as not only disgusting, but even traitorous, and keeps us from ever developing a true connection to her character. Instead, all we can think about is how terrible a person must to want to break up a marriage, especially one involving someone within her own family. [...]
using our reader.