Cate Kennedy

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The protagonist of the story, Liz is a new mother who returns to work at her office 18 months after giving birth to her son, Daniel. She feels extremely anxious and guilty about leaving… (read full character analysis)


Liz’s son. Daniel is 18 months old when Liz drops him off at childcare for the first time. He is a calm baby and doesn’t appear to be fussy or unhappy, despite his mother’s… (read full character analysis)

Julie, Stella, and Caroline

Liz’s female coworkers. They attempt to be supportive when she returns to the office after her maternity leave but ultimately project their own experiences onto her instead of listening. They each reminisce about the… (read full character analysis)


Liz’s boss. In the morning, he reminds her of a meeting they have to attend and says, “See, got to crack the whip now. Got to get you back into gear again.” Frank is… (read full character analysis)

Tim and Dave

Liz’s male coworkers. They exchange looks of disdain when she returns and talks incessantly about Daniel with her female coworkers, Julie, Stella, and Caroline. Tim has a jar of gourmet herbal teas in… (read full character analysis)
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Liz’s husband and Daniel’s father. He has a “soft, slumped,” look from all the hours he spends commuting and working, and his appearance reminds readers of the physical toll of modern capitalism on… (read full character analysis)