Meet the characters at the heart of The American Clock

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Rachel Chavkin’s The American Clock centres around the Baum family as they navigate the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash. Here’s everything you need to know about Moe, Rose and Lee.

Rose Baum

Wife to Moe and mother to Lee. Based on Arthur Miller’s mother, Rose is a complex character who loves music. She is burdened with guilt when the family lose their money after the crash and can’t afford to send their son to college, believing they were too frivolous when times were good.

‘With all her defeats she believed to the end that the world was meant to be better…I don’t know; all I know for sure is that whenever I think of her, I always end up—with this head full of life!’

Lee

Moe Baum

Husband to Rose and father to Lee. We see his struggle as the family fall from wealth to poverty. Based on Miller’s father, he was an immigrant and successful business owner who lost everything to the Great Depression. After the crash he continues to try and make a living as a salesman.

‘And my father, who started as a poor immigrant and became rich – that upward climb was like a secret path engraved on an icon. In my father’s eyes were the stars of the American flag. And he fully expected that on a rainy night, when he raised his hand, there would always be a taxicab’

Lee

Lee Baum

Son of Moe and Rose. Miller wrote a lot of his own life into the character of Lee, who fails to get into college on his first attempt and has to support himself and his family by getting a job. Once he does make it to college, he hopes to become a sports writer but after graduation, he becomes disillusioned by the capitalist system that he believes is destroying his country.

‘The boom of the twenties was a gigantic fake. The rich have simply looted the people. And all President Hoover can say is have confidence! I’ve passed fields of corn rotting on the stalks unsold, and sheriff’s guarding them while on the road people fall down from hunger.–There is going to be a revolution, Mama…’

Lee

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