Is Jim Lowell a weakling? Not completely. He is only weak in that his father is dominant - dominant and domineering - he is only weak in that he's never had the opportunity from the time he was a small boy to be the boy, the man that he could have been, could be. The pattern was set, and within the confines of this pattern Jim Lowell grew to manhood.
Jim's greatest feeling of inadequacy is during those times that he is in some way in competition with his father. He knows that his father has tried to look upon him as an extension of his own ego, but Jim never quite measured up. This is the first real tragedy, and as the night follows the day, what happened and is happening in the lives of Claire, Ellen and Jim was inevitable.
How do three people resolve a problem such as this? What is the answer for Claire, what is the answer for Jim, and what is the answer for Ellen? At this point, the happiness of one is as important as the happiness of the others. This isn't the way it always works out. We know the percentage of divorce each year, but do we know the percentage of men and women who are living together because of their children. Do we know how many men and women are living together out of sheer habit. Our concern will not be with the latter, but rather with the former.
Somewhere along the line, in spite of himself, Jim Lowell will have to make a decision. What other decision can he make than one which is within the pattern in which he has lived for over forty years? And so he returns to his home. The return of Jim Lowell is a story in itself.
Ellen, who will be seventeen, must become aware, not of a mother and father, but of a woman and a man. All children, boys and girls alike, reach a stage when they are somewhat objective and think of their parents not in terms of parents but in terms of people: How do they measure up, what are they like, who are they really? Ellen particularly will wonder about her father the day she learns, quite inadvertently, that he has been and possibly is still in love with the aunt of her closest friend.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Stay tuned for the final part of the AS THE EARTH TURNS bible.