Study Guide

Minor Characters from the World of Laura Brown in The Hours

By Michael Cunningham

Minor Characters from the World of Laura Brown

Mrs. Latch

Mrs. Latch is one of Laura Brown's neighbors, and she watches Laura's three-year-old son, Richie, during the hours when Laura makes the spontaneous decision to sit alone in a hotel room reading Mrs. Dalloway.

According to the novel's narrator, Mrs. Latch is "florid, huge-hipped in Bermuda shorts," and "overly kind" (17.5). Laura suspects that she might resent Richie for being a "momma's boy" (17.12), and, on the whole, Mrs. Latch's grumpy demeanor reminds us a lot of Nelly Boxall.

Ray

Ray exists in the suburban, late 1940s world of Laura Brown. He's one of Laura's neighbors, and he is married to Kitty—the young woman with whom Laura shares a brief and unexpected kiss.

Like Laura's own husband, Dan, Ray is a veteran of the Second World War. "He spent seven months as a prisoner of war in the Philippines," and now he's "some sort of mysterious functionary in the Department of Water and Power" (9.31).

From Laura's point of view, Ray plays the same role in Kitty's life as Laura's failed birthday cake does in hers. At just thirty years old, Ray is "beginning to demonstrate how heroic boys can, by infinitesimal degrees, for no visible reasons, metamorphose into middle-aged drubs (9.31). From a handsome high-school athlete to a thirty year-old man who already seems to be past his prime, Ray is the living embodiment of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days."

The Desk Clerk at The Normandy

When Laura Brown checks into The Normandy so that she can spend a few hours alone, the transaction is carried out by "a man about her own age, with a sweet, reedy voice and ravaged skin" (12.16).

What ravaged his skin? Is he a war veteran too? We guess this is just another one of those little mysteries that we'll never solve.