Antagonist: Deborah Seaton
Age: 35 years old at time of Alouette's Song, 42 at time of Alouette's Dream
Birthplace: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Orientation: straight female
Religion: Conservative Judaism.
Occupation: Full time homemaker and wife
Deborah Seaton's story is an especially tragic one. Deborah was raised in a strict Conservative family having an violently alcoholic father. They believed her destiny was only to become a Jewish wife and mother and so repeat the cycle of Jewish family life she had taken for granted as true since time immemorial.
Deborah saw her home life and her future prospects as being intolerable, so she sought escape through a romance with a boy from Gentile family. Unfortunately, he was pressured by his own family to cease a relationship with a Jewish girl, and so Deborah was abandoned by a boy who did not even known she was pregnant.
Deborah realized she could be in huge trouble with her father, and so sought to remedy the situation by targeting a boy she believed she could easily entrap into marriage. The boy, Jack, had few to non-existent skills in dealing with women, and so he was thrilled to be asked out to the spring senior prom by a girl he thought of as unattainable due to her popularity.
He was thrilled even more when the Debby took him to a motel room she booked for afterward and took his virginity using a condom she had intentionally sabotaged with a pin so it would disintegrate under use. She announced a couple weeks later she was pregnant by him, and then used social pressure by both her parents and his to marry immediately after graduation so he could support her and the baby.
Debby had by then learned to hate all men, and had them denied him any further sexual contact. Jewish law did not specifically require a physical consummation after the ceremony, merely the opportunity for the new husband and wife to have a few minutes of time alone, and so they were legally married as well.
In Debby's mind that was only the beginning of the punishment she felt due him for "ruining her reputation." Technically this was adequate grounds for him to divorce her, but Jack was conditioned to be virtuously dutiful, and he felt part of his duty was to "pay for his mistakes". She gave birth to Rick about eight months later, claiming her baby was only a month premature, nothing to worry about.
Debby usually refused to interact with her husband on any friendly terms, and so Jack became a workaholic while Debby became a compulsive cleaner at home and involved in her temple sisterhood while away. Debby saw all men as potential threats to women, and so was determined to emasculate her son emotionally so he would always obey her first even after he was to inevitably find a girl to marry and thus repeat the Jewish life cycle. Debby would also attack Jack verbally for every little thing she would consider wrong, but the one place they made a functional truce was with regard to their son's upbringing and religious development.
Debby and Jack believed Richard was obtaining his required education in Jewish life at the local Hebrew school on Saturday afternoons, an assumption which turned out to be fatal because he would often daydream in class. Richard was functionally illiterate in Hebrew by the time he was to train for his Bar-Mitzvah. His mother abused him physically and emotionally after learning this, and to make it even more humiliating she arranged with the cantor to write up translated sheet music for Richard to sing from so she would not appear a failure before the rest of her synagogue.
As a child Richard had only two possible escapes for the life his parents subjected to as he grew up: books and television. His schoolwork grades were found to be marginal, but his annual test scores showed him to be two years beyond the rest of his class. The school district suggested he be skipped two grades as they saw him in grave danger of underachieving. His parents allowed saw this as an honor, and allowed it.
Richard's favorite television show was an imported Japanese anime series, one in particular which taught him all the values his parents would never attain, learning from that a form of hesed, the Hebrew term for inner nobility, albeit with a very strong Japanese accent.
Richard understood long since what he needed to do to escape his parents. He realized he simply needed to give his parents what they wanted, but far more of it than they were expecting, and bide his time. Therefore, he re-engineered the usual four year plan of high school study into three years. He took two courses per summer of what would normally be remedial classes in English, math, and science, plus some electives.
His parents were extremely proud of his diligence as a student, even though he never graduated with honors, since he also had won a complete undergraduate scholarship at a nearby university based on examination of his arts portfolio he had been steadily assembly over the years.
Richard became a college freshman at the age of 15.
Richard generally needed to board on campus away from home, which got him away from his parents except on weekends. His parents required him to come home and attend Friday night services as part of the condition of his attending colleges so early. Still, that reduced Richard's exposure to his family to tolerable levels.
Next year, Richard was a college sophomore at 16. His father believed he was drifting too far away from the family from being an underage college student. After suddenly realized this was his son's plan all along, he alerted Debby, then both of Richard's parents examined his high school transcript.
The evidence was damning: aside from art and some isolated classes, Richard put in minimally required work during his entire school career to graduate with a 2.5 GPA with no grades below a C, rather than getting the near perfect grades they believed his hard work should have resulted in. This implied his son deliberately focused on graduating school at high speed rather than on obtaining high grades, so as to legally run away from home. Richard winning a Ivy-league arts scholarship completely on his own made Jack especially jealous of his own entrapment in the working class. Jack rightly believes Richard is making a maximum effort to pull away from faith and family.
Since Richard is underage, a parent or guardian needed to sign off on scholarship disbursements every semester. Debby supports Jack in his decision to forbids Richard's further attendance at college. To drive the lesson home, Richard will marry a girl whose family attends the same temple but has powerful business connections, in that fashion deliberately killing his dreams forever and setting back him on the righteous path. Since Jack and his wife together used force at all levels from birth to render their son passively compliant to their will, they believe Richard will finish out the semester, drop out of college, then begin work at Jack's firm at his original position as the mail-room boy.
A couple days later on the way back to school, Richard is involved in a subway accident. While waiting for the Frankfort Elevated in Philadelphia on his way to the Paoli Local, Richard hears someone screaming in pain and terror from the tracks, with the next train due to arrive in about a minute. At complete and utter disregard of the risk to his own life and the odds against success, he leaps off the concourse onto the tracks and saves the girl's life. Based on only a brief glimpse from the news of the girl's fantastic beauty and her status as a music star, Debby jumps to the conclusion that this girl is a Gentile, and therefore is a threat to her son and her family.
Debby and Jack believe Richard needs some time off, so they allow him to visit an old friend who he first met at summer camp, Martin. A few weeks later, Debby is incensed to discover on the news that her son is now the travelling companion of Dorothy, the music star, on her first world tour.
When Richard winds up missing on his way home from Dorothy's family, she gives Dorothy an extremely cold reception over the telephone. That's the last she hears of either for several weeks.
Debby next sees him a couple months later in a private New York psychiatric facility. She neither knows nor cares about his son's deeds in space, all she wants is for her son to come home, but her son finally stands up to her and disobeys her in public, saying he'd rather even go to juvie than endure another day with his parents. Debby starts a scene in her son's hospital room, accusing Dorothy of being far too beautiful to be Jewish, and also denounces her as a whore. Dorothy fires back that her love has been raised by parents unworthy of him.
Two weeks later, Richard and Dorothy visit the family home with a rabbi and a lawyer. Debby understands her son is in love with the violin star, who she now understands actually IS Jewish, but still believes isn't good enough for him. Debby can't believe a girl that beautiful can have anything resembling integrity, and says so, and in a uncontrollable rage cites as example her romance with a Gentile boy prior to meeting Jack. Her boyfriend left her for another Gentile without even knowing Debby was even pregnant.
All the facts fall into place for Jack. Debby spitefully confirms Jack's suspicions that she targeted him deliberately and sabotaged the birth control to make it seem Richard was Jack's baby. Jack realizes aloud that Debby had no regard for her husband from the very start.
Richard announces he will file for judicial emancipation, and then begins reciting the Kaddish against both his parents in response to cruel treatment they subjected him to during his lifetime. However, Dorothy stops him, and yields her claim on him until he reaches majority. Debby, seeing such a remarkably righteous act on the girl's part, decides to change her mind and allow Richard to marry underage.
Jack suicides the next day.
Debby is last seen present at her son's wedding, conducted by Dorothy's grandfather.