Helen Casey, who was born in 1904, is Lily Casey Smith’s younger sister. In 1911, she is saved from drowning by Lily.
Helen is Daisy Mae Casey’s “favourite daughter”
, who has “inherited her tiny hands and feet and her frail constitution” (p. 18, ll. 21 f.). Helen declines hard work
– like her mother:
“That girl just lacked get-up-and-go. […] Helen was happy to sew and bake pies, but she hated any kind of work that made her break into a sweat or gave her hands calluses”. (p. 66, l. 29 - p. 67, l. 3)
Helen dreams of becoming an actress in Hollywood, whereas her mother wants her to go to the Sisters of Loretto in order to catch a husband afterwards. In the 1920’s, Helen really moves to Hollywood and works as a servant at a millinery48
. She is living promiscuously49
since she thinks that this is “the way all girls made it in Hollywood” (p. 101, l. 19 f.). She becomes pregnant unintentionally50
. “Mr. Wonderful”, the father of the unborn baby, wants her to have an abortion51
, but Helen refuses to do so because she is afraid of dying. Not wanting to tell her parents about it because she is ashamed of herself, she comes to Red Lake. There, she suffers a depression. Only Lily’s trade mark, the red crimson shirt, makes her smile:
“Helen loved my crimson shirt. When she saw me in it, she smiled for the first time since coming to Red Lake (p. 105, l. 1 f.).
Helen, who is very naive
, is not able to cope with the difficult situation. Although she is pregnant and unmarried, she is quite arrogant
: when Lily tries to marry her off with Roosters or Jim Smith, she always has something to complain about the two. She is not aware of the seriousness of the situation
and only thinks about the consequences of the pregnancy on her figure:
“Helen, however, seemed distracted, almost in a daze. Smoking cigarette after cigarette, she spoke in fragmented sentences, and instead of focusing on practicalities, her mind drifted all over the place. She kept returning to totally ludicrous plans and pointless concerns, wondering if she could get Mr. Wonderful back by putting the child into an orphanage and worrying if childbirth would ruin her figure for bathing-suit scenes in movies.” (p. 102, ll. 27 - 33)
Having listened to the conversation of Helen and Mr. MacIntosh, Helen commits suicide
the next day.
She is buried at a beautiful place in Lily’s red crimson shirt by her sister, Rooster and Jim, since people having committed suicide are not allowed to be buried in the Catholic cemetery.
49promiskuitiv: sexuell freizügig
50to become pregnant unintentionally: ungewollt schwanger werden