Proof

by

David Auburn

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Claire Character Analysis

Claire is Catherine’s older sister and Robert’s oldest daughter. She is stylish, level-headed, and pushy. The pushiness becomes immediately clear when Claire arrives in Chicago for her father’s funeral and asks Catherine to move to New York to live with her, since she believes that Catherine, like Robert, is too mentally ill to live alone. Catherine vehemently disagrees, but Claire seems not to listen. Throughout the play, Claire’s plans and opinions are often at odds with Catherine’s. This applies to small things (like how Catherine should care for her hair) and big ones—for instance, Claire thinks that Catherine made the wrong decision in caring for Robert at home, while Catherine and Robert (via his journal) disagree. The audience never gets much insight into Claire’s values or motivations, so it’s not clear whether her behavior towards Catherine is merely selfish and unempathetic, or whether it’s more complicated—perhaps she’s trying to overcompensate for her guilt over not being there when Catherine was caring for their father. Regardless, it’s clear that Claire’s presence grates on Catherine and sometimes genuinely hurts her, as when Claire doesn’t believe that Catherine could have written the groundbreaking proof that Hal finds in Robert’s desk drawer. This betrayal sends Catherine into a tailspin, which ultimately frustrates Claire so much that she leaves for New York alone.

Claire Quotes in Proof

The Proof quotes below are all either spoken by Claire or refer to Claire. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Proof published in 2001.
Act One, Scene 2 Quotes

CLAIRE: Did you use that conditioner I bought you?

CATHERINE: No, shit, I forgot.

CLAIRE: It’s my favorite. You’ll love it, Katie. I want you to try it. […] It has jojoba […] It’s something they put in for healthy hair.

CATHERINE: Hair is dead […] It’s dead tissue. You can’t make it healthy.

CLAIRE: It makes my hair feel, look, and smell good. That’s the extent of my information about it. You might like it if you decide to use it.

Related Characters: Claire (speaker), Catherine (speaker)
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene 4 Quotes

CATHERINE: I know you mean well. I’m just not sure what I want to do. I mean to be honest you were right yesterday. I do feel a little confused. I’m tired. It’s been a pretty weird couple of years. I think I’d like to take some time to figure things out.

CLAIRE: You could do that in New York.

CATHERINE: And I could do it here.

CLAIRE: But it would be much easier for me to get you set up in an apartment in New York, and—

CATHERINE: I don’t need an apartment, I’ll stay in the house.

CLAIRE: We’re selling the house.

Related Characters: Catherine (speaker), Claire (speaker)
Page Number: 42-43
Explanation and Analysis:

CLAIRE: Living here with him didn’t do you any good. You said that yourself.

You had so much talent…

CATHERINE: You think I’m like Dad.

CLAIRE: I think you have some of his talent and some of his tendency toward…instability.

Related Characters: Claire (speaker), Catherine (speaker), Robert
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene 2 Quotes

CLAIRE: […] You wrote this incredible thing and you didn’t tell anyone?

CATHERINE: I’m telling you both now. After I dropped out of school I had nothing to do. I was depressed, really depressed, but at a certain point I decided, Fuck it, I don’t need them. It’s just math, I can do it on my own. So I kept working here. I worked at night, after Dad had gone to sleep. It was hard but I did it. […]

CLAIRE: Catherine, I’m sorry but I just find this very hard to believe.

Related Characters: Claire (speaker), Catherine (speaker), Robert
Related Symbols: Proof
Page Number: 60-61
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene 3 Quotes

CLAIRE: […] I probably inherited about one one-thousandth of my father’s ability. It’s enough.

Catherine got more, I’m not sure how much.

Related Characters: Claire (speaker), Robert, Catherine
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Proof LitChart as a printable PDF.
Proof PDF

Claire Character Timeline in Proof

The timeline below shows where the character Claire appears in Proof. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene 1
Family and Heredity Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...that the girl, Cindy Jacobson, was her friend in the third grade. Robert asks about Claire, which Catherine dismisses. Claire doesn’t count because she is Catherine’s sister, whom Catherine doesn’t even... (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Confused, Robert says that he thought that Claire was coming. But Catherine explains that Claire is arriving the next day. After a moment,... (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Family and Heredity Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...because he’s dead, which Catherine confirms: he died from heart failure a week ago, and Claire is coming to Chicago for the funeral. Catherine asks what it means for her that... (full context)
Act One, Scene 2
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The next morning, Claire is drinking coffee on the porch, where she has set out bagels and fruit. After... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Claire asks if Catherine has tried on the dress Claire got her or used the conditioner... (full context)
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Claire wants to host some people after the burial this afternoon, but she offers to only... (full context)
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Claire tells Catherine that Mitch says hi and then announces that they are getting married. Catherine... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Cautiously, Claire asks Catherine how she is feeling about Robert’s death, but Catherine doesn’t elaborate beyond saying... (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Family and Heredity Theme Icon
Claire admits that some police officers visited while Catherine was in the shower to check up... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Confused, Claire asks a series of questions to which Catherine responds tersely, but eventually Claire pieces together... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Claire still insists that Catherine’s stories don’t add up: did she call the police on a... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
After a pause, Claire says that the police claimed that Catherine was rude and aggressive with them, even hitting... (full context)
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Claire asks Catherine if she’d like to stay in New York City with her and Mitch.... (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...and then steps onto the porch. Catherine victoriously announces who he is then furiously tells Claire that she doesn’t need her questions, criticism, or advice—she’s totally fine on her own. (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
After an awkward silence, Claire calmly introduces herself to Hal, who asks if he can get some work in before... (full context)
Act One, Scene 3
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Hal compliments Catherine on her dress, and she replies that Claire gave it to her, but it doesn’t fit. Hal insists that it looks nice. When... (full context)
Act One, Scene 4
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...sitting on the porch when Hal, who is partially dressed, steps out to join her. Claire is still sleeping, having drunk heavily with the mathematicians yesterday. There’s a bit of awkwardness... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Claire comes onto the porch, extremely hungover and cursing the physicists that she had tried to... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Claire takes a deep breath and tells Catherine that she wants her to come to New... (full context)
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Catherine is furious. Claire claims that she is trying to help and wants to make up for having left... (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Family and Heredity Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Nonetheless, Claire believes an institution would have helped Robert more, and also that Catherine may have “been... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
At first, Claire tries to deny it, but she does admit that the excellent doctors of New York... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...known if she wanted to tell him. After a moment, Hal thanks her effusively. Confused, Claire asks what’s going on. (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
...theorem about prime numbers, which, if proven accurate, would be a ground-breaking discovery. Hal tells Claire that Catherine found it. But Catherine says she didn’t find it—she wrote it. (full context)
Act Two, Scene 1
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...studies. He’s hurt that she didn’t talk to him sooner, particularly when he learns that Claire already knows. Catherine insists that she’ll move back if he gets sick again, but he... (full context)
Act Two, Scene 2
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Family and Heredity Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...she wrote the proof. Hal is baffled, asking multiple times if she really wrote it. Claire asks Hal how and where he found the notebook, cutting off Catherine whenever she offers... (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Claire doesn’t believe Catherine, because it’s written in Robert’s handwriting. Catherine asks Hal to confirm that... (full context)
Sexism Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Claire relents and tells Catherine to go over the proof with Hal. But Hal raises the... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...is distraught. After a moment, she tries to destroy the notebook in her hands, but Claire grabs the book away from her. When Catherine manages to wrestle it back, she simply... (full context)
Act Two, Scene 3
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
The next day, Hal knocks on the door and calls for Catherine. Claire steps onto the porch and explains that she had to delay her flight because Catherine... (full context)
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Claire asks why Hal slept with Catherine, suggesting he took advantage of her. But Hal insists... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
...agrees, but he doesn’t move, since he has another reason for coming. To his surprise, Claire hands him the notebook, saying he can have it. Hal is confused—he thought that he’d... (full context)
Genius and Mental Instability Theme Icon
Family and Heredity Theme Icon
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Claire says she trusts him with the notebook, adding that he should call her when he... (full context)
Act Two, Scene 5
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
It’s a week after Claire gave Hal the notebook. Claire is on the porch, where she grasps a plane ticket... (full context)
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Claire is overly attentive to Catherine, asking if she wants to go inside or wear a... (full context)
Proof, Trust, and Credibility Theme Icon
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
At first, Catherine passively accepts what Claire is saying, but the more Claire tries to empathize with her, the more sarcastic Catherine... (full context)
Caretaking and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Aggravated, Claire tells Catherine to stay in Chicago if she thinks she can handle it. Catherine insists... (full context)