All of Donna Tartt’s characters are irreparably broken, and it shows so much about real life. Richard Papen is eternally scarred by his poverty, and his experience with the murder squad at Hampton. Henry Winter is filled with apathy for life and the only way he escapes it is by a bacchanal, which is the height of his life. Charles Macaulay is an alcoholic who is in denial of his bisexuality and has an abusive, incestuous relationship with his sister. Camilla Macaulay is in love with a dead man and is forsaken by her brother and the world to forever take care of the mess that is left. Francis Abernathy is pushed into a marriage he doesn’t want in order to keep his inheritance, and the only man he’s loved is a alcoholic and an abuser. Bunny Corcoran is brought up in a family that teaches him to be greedy but never to work for it, and he is murdered by those who he thought to be his friends. Theo Decker is broken apart by the museum accident, the painting he picks up ultimately rules his life. Boris Pavlikovsky seems to be happy and spontaneous throughout the whole book, but in the undertones, he has an abusive father and he’s an alcoholic and a drug addict who doesn’t really have much in the first place. Kitsey Barbour is unable to talk about things that disturb her being, and the death of Andy and her father drives her into the arms of someone she doesn’t love. Pippa Blackwell is carted off to a school for the mentally unstable and is forsaken from being the successful musician she aspired to be. All of these characters are completely enchanting and cracked and empty, each one a masterpiece of pain and ruin.
I don't know how much of the region did, but I had various ancestors in eastern or middle Tennessee (Jackson, Campbell, Scott, and Clay Counties), and to the best of my and my mom's knowledge, all of them fought for the Union. One was even in Andersonville.