Character Analysis T. Ray (Terrence) Owens


T. Ray is Lily's father, a bitter, cruel man who takes his anger out on Lily. The source of that anger is Deborah's abandonment. From August, Lily learns that T. Ray was once deeply in love with Lily's mother, but they were totally unsuited for each other in social background and personality. When Deborah became pregnant with Lily, they married to give her a name and a home. But Deborah's increasing unhappiness led to a nervous breakdown, causing her to leave her husband. This powerful blow to his pride caused T. Ray to take all his rage out on his daughter, ignoring her at times and abusing her for senseless reasons. Although he is present only at the beginning and end of the novel, his influence is felt as a dark cloud looming over Lily's life. In the end, when Lily confronts him, she realizes that his pent-up bitterness is not really directed at her, but at the mother who left them both. T. Ray is given some sense of redemption in Lily's eyes when his final words are that she didn't mean to kill her mother. The roughness leaves his voice, and he departs in his truck slowly. Lily gives him her last vestige of romanticism when she interprets this as his understanding that she wouldn't grow strong with him and is better off with the Daughters and the Boatrights.