The eldest of the Walls children, Lori is the first to question and criticize the family’s chaotic lifestyle and is the most parentified of the siblings. She often takes on duties of care, not only looking after her siblings but also after her own parents, especially her mother. Lori is remarkably intelligent from a young age, especially in the fields of language, writing, and literature. She uses her skills to the benefit of her family, even doing Rose Mary’s job for her by grading her students’ essays and assignments. As Lori ages, she turns to books for an escape from her difficult childhood, becoming especially taken by fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings. Both Lori and Jeannette share an interest in literature and writing, but they differ in that Lori finds solace in the wonder and imagination of fantasy worlds, whereas Jeannette gains new insights through the practical psychology of realistic fiction.

However, Lori’s comprehension of the world goes far beyond her fantasy novels – she has a unique understanding of her family’s dynamics that Jeannette often never considers. Despite their inevitable interpersonal struggles, of all the children she is closest to Rose Mary, as they share an interest in art and books. She seems to understand and empathize with Mom in the same way that Jeannette understands and empathizes with Dad. For instance, Lori becomes aware of the gendered power dynamics in her parents’ relationship far before Jeannette does, explaining that Rose Mary is in an incredibly difficult position as Rex’s wife, and that not even a caryatid – a Grecian temple pillar shaped like a woman – would be strong enough to handle being married to their father. As the family ages, Lori remains a considerate caretaker. The first to leave Welch and successfully start a life in New York City, she welcomes Jeannette, Brian, and, eventually, Maureen to live with her, in some ways acting as a stable parental figure. Of all of the siblings, she’s also the most involved with Rose Mary and Rex once they arrive in New York, allowing them to stay with her for some time and remaining connected to them throughout their familial tensions and turbulence. Lori’s consistency, stability, and intelligence serve the Walls children well – without her taking on many overwhelming responsibilities at a young age, the siblings may never have made it out of Welch or been so successful in their adult lives.