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As Nathan's madness becomes more apparent, and her children's lives seem ever more tenuous, Orleanna struggles to revive the ability to act out on her own, to oppose her husband's will. However, it is not until Ruth May dies that she is finally able to muster the strength to flee from Nathan with her remaining daughters in tow. For the rest of her life she is overwhelmed by guilt, obsessing over her complicity in her daughter's death. Still she is a dynamic character who sees her life and husband for what they really were and is able to change.