Living… in New York City with his generous brother who provides him room and board and fifty cents a week for cigarettes. As Don says, his brother does it “Out of the bigness of his heart. And it is a big heart, a patient heart.”
Profession… writer. He’s just started a novel– though he’s started quite a few novels. He never seems to finish one. He’s also got one-half of the opening scene of a play. It all takes place in the leaning tower of Pisa and explains why it leans. He’s sure it’ll be a smash.
Interests… drinking. He’s not a “drinker;” he is dependent on alcohol to live. It can lead to the highest ecstasies and the depths of despair– he’ll take anything but the bludgeoning realities of sobriety. He knows it’s bad for his body, but how could something that feel so good be bad? As he says, “It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can soar. Suddenly I'm above the ordinary. I'm competent, supremely competent. I'm walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I'm one of the great ones. I'm Michelangelo moulding the beard of Moses. I'm Van Gogh, painting pure sunlight.”
Relationship Status… in a tumultuous relationship with Helen. It’s not clear to him why Helen sticks around with a guy like him.
Challenge… fighting the other Don Birnam. There are two of them: Don the drunk and Don the writer. The drunk thinks the writer’s an eternal bore and wants to get the party started. The drunk promises the writer the work will get done, just after this one last drink. The writer gives in because he doesn’t respect himself. The drunk takes the writer for all he’s worth.
Personality… depressed, aimless, and addicted. Don is a complex and intelligent guy who has hit rock bottom. His pain is intense, and his actions are desperate. Although he has nearly given up on himself, Helen has not. He’s lucky he has her to get through this tough time in his life.
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