Study Guide

Uncle Toole Dawsey in Dancing on the Edge

By Han Nolan

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Uncle Toole Dawsey

Uncle Toole definitely lives up to his name—the guy is a creep, a loser, and just about every other negative word you can possibly think of—and yet, at one time, Aunt Casey was in love with him. She gives us a small glimpse into that world of the past while she and Miracle play I Recall in one of their therapy sessions:

"I remember being in love with Toole Dawsey. We had this dream that I was going to be a beautician and get so popular and rich that we'd move to Hollywood and I'd be the hairdresser to the stars. He wanted to be an actor." (26.16)

Instead of living happily ever after in Hollywood, though, Casey and Toole end up living in the house Casey grew up in with Toole's stuff cluttering up the place.

Miracle's perspective on Toole creates the most detailed view in the book of what this guy's actually like. "He was big-muscled and square all over," she says, "with a snarly, growly voice and a scar on his forehead that looked as if the long jagged edge of a piece of glass had cut into him" (1.28). Jeepers. Doesn't exactly sound like someone who has any business showing up for casting calls, unless of course the movie features serial killers.

Not only that, but Toole's also super immature. "Aunt Casey said Uncle Toole hadn't changed enough," Miracle says when recounting one of their fights. "She said he was stuck in adolescence, refusing to grow up" (15.8). He also has a ton of focus issues, which is probably one reason why he gets so easily bored with Casey and goes around with other women.

So that brings us to the big question of the day: Why did Casey even marry this guy anyway? We think the answer goes back to Casey's transformation throughout the novel. When she first met Toole, her aspirations didn't go far past doing hair and being sexy, so the two of them were on the same level. Taking psychology courses, though, reveals to Casey the dysfunction in their marriage and the very serious issues Toole has. She really does change too much for him—and in the end, he can't deal with it. We're pretty sure Toole never deserved Casey to begin with.

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