The life of middle-aged Jack O'Brien has been shaped largely by his formative growing-up period in suburban Waco, Texas in the 1950's with his parents, and his two younger brothers, R.L. and Steve. It is primarily the dichotomy between his parents that is causing an emotional conflict within him, now specifically with his father. Although both his parents loved him and his siblings, they demonstrated that love in different ways which was often at odds with each other. His mother was overly caring and nurturing, and tried to provide a sense of wonderment about the world to her children. His father was unbending, and did not tolerate disobedience as he wanted to prepare his children practically for a difficult world. Mr. O'Brien's actions were also shaped by his own internal conflicts about what he did and what he wanted to do in life. Middle-aged Jack's current thoughts also reflect back on the death of his brother R.L., who was killed in military duty at age nineteen.