From this beginning the story unfolds around the Hoyle family, who run an iron foundry, the main industry in town. The patriarch of the family, Huff Hoyle, is introduced to us after he returns from a hot day during which he planned to play golf but ended up playing cards at the country club. He is described as striding in and telling his son, Chris, to, "Get me one of those longnecks. I'm so damn thirsty, I couldn't work up a spit if my dick was on fire." He is the coarse, domineering, and controlling father of three children. He also runs his iron foundry with a firm and at times brutal hand, with disregard for safety regulations. His oldest son, Chris, is his pride and joy. Huff's daughter and second child, Sayre, left the family. We find later that years ago Huff ruined her plans to marry her high school love, forced an abortion on her, and then had her marry a rich old crony.