When looking at the major and minor characters are in the film, we decided Nick is the main character as the action revolves around him. Meryl is the next most important character, followed by Andy and Anna.
It is important to consider the function, role and value of the minor characters. Many of these characters either support our understanding of one of the main characters or themes of the film. For example, as we have discussed, Julia and the train driver represent the silent emotions that both Nick and Meryl are feeling. The images Nick captures of Julia and the train driver at the accident become synonymous with his own despair at having been diagnosed with cancer. Meryl is associated with Julia. Scenes depicting Julia often follow or precede scenes depicting Meryl and this demonstrates the loneliness of both women. Meryl makes a memorial for Rob and this acts as a catalyst for Julia to make her own. Both have received flowers as the result of death of a loved one.
Through parellel narratives we are asked to compare characters. The train driver's son takes his father to Julia's house while Nick takes Meryl to his parents house. Forgiveness occurs in both places. Joan says to Nick 'I couldn't give him my way of coping and you couldn't give him yours' when he says he should have done more. Meanwhile, Julia says to the train driver, 'It's not your fault.' Meryl and Nick feel the loss of their fathers while the train driver's son seeks to reconnect with his father and silently ease his grief by offering him a beer and holding the umbrella outside Julia's.
These are the types of connections we need to make. We must delve deep into the text.