Antagonist: Jack Seaton
Birthplace: Merchantville, New Jersey
Orientation: straight male
Religion: Conservative Judaism.
Likes: Vodka, bourbon, and socializing at temple on Friday nights.
Special Talents: Street smarts and low cunning.
Relatives: Deborah (wife), Richard (son)
Occupation: Senior advertising copy editor.
Employers: Advertising firm in Philadelphia.
Jack Seaton's story is an especially tragic one. He was an ordinary Jewish boy living in a strict but tolerable Convervative Jewish family who had their usual expectations of him: to do well in the world, marry well, raise children, and follow the Commandments to the best of his ability. He was painfully shy with poor social skills, especially around girls.
Therefore, he was thrilled to be asked out to the spring senior prom by someone he thought of as unattainable due to her beauty. He was thrilled even more when the girl took him to a motel room she booked for afterward and took his virginity. The girl had brought a condom with her but unfortunately it broke under the stress of its usage. 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.
His wife denied him all marital relations since, which was in her mind only part of the punishment he was due 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.
He started at a minimum wage position, mailroom boy, at an advertising firm in Philadelphia, the only company that was willing to hire him without a college diploma. He worked up the ranks to become an especially talented member of the advertising campaign staff, but there his upward mobility stopped. He was passed over repeatedly for promotions to more senior positions, all for the want of credentials from an Ivy-League college.
Having a wife unwilling to sleep with him and having an unrewarding career cause him frustrations that he could only make tolerable with alcohol. He soon got sufficiently angry with his wife's trapping him into marriage that he began beating her anytime he got sufficiently drunk. He even hit his own son a few times for getting in his way.
Jack was extremely proud of his son's academic accomplishments, specifically his rapid acceleration through junior and senior high school and attainment of freshman college status at 15 on an arts scholarship. When Rick turned 16, however, Jack became suspicious of his son's preference for life in the dorms rather than at home. Jack never paid great attention to his son's report cards so long as Rick was not failing any subject.
The evidence was damning: aside from art and some isolated classes, Rick had put in minimally required work during his entire school career rather than excelling. To Jack this implied his son was deliberately focusing on graduating school at high speed rather than on obtaining high grades, so as to legally run away from home. Rick 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 Rick is making a maximum effort to pull away from faith and family.
Since Rick was underage, a parent or guardian needed to sign off on scholarship disbursements every semester. Jack therefore forbids Rick's further attendance at college, and to drive the lesson home, would arrange for his son to marry a girl whose family also attended the same temple but had powerful business connections. Since Jack and his wife had used force at all levels to render their son passively compliant to their will, they believed Rick would finish out the semster and obey them. Instead, they unknowingly drove their son to consider suicide.
In a couple days the most amazing thing happens. At complete disregard to the risk of his own life, Rick rescues from certain death by express train a girl who is a rising star on the world-class violin circuit. The mayor of Philadelphia announces that for Rick's valor a fully-paid scholarship will await the boy at the police academy as soon as he turns 18. Jack's mood softens some, as a police career would be more fitting for blue-collar ambitions, and allows the boy the summer off at a close friend he met from summer camp to recuperate from his ordeal at the subway. The boy does not return home, but instead goes along with his new girlfriend on her first world tour.
Jack next sees him a couple months later in a private New York psychiatric facility. He neither knows nor cares about his son's deeds in space, all he wants is for his son to come home, but his son finally stands up to him and disobeys him in public, saying he'd rather even go to juvie than endure another day with his parents.
When Jack sees his son for the final time, he understands his son is in love with the violin star. Jack believe she is too old for him, and naturally refuses consent. Debby, Jack's wife, believes the girl's unearthly beauty makes her implicitly predatory and therefore unworthy, and in a fit of uncontrollable pain and 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 Rick was Jack's baby. Debby had no regard for her husband from the very start. She wanted to punish men in general and she wanted to make Rick into the perfect boy who would stay tied to her apron strings forever.
Jack is devastated by the real truth about his life. He feels victimized by his realization of how truly evil people like Debby can exist who would use the hesed (inner nobility) of other Jewish people for their own personal gain.
In protest of her actions, he suicides the following day by jumping out the 18th story window closes to his desk at work, under the guise of working late hours on a project. He leaves a note on his chair castigating his employer and his co-workers. Jack is given a honorable burial regardless by a rabbi Rick absolutely trusts, and the entire Jewish contingent of Jack's company take the day off to participate in the minyan.