Life is a search for a room, Nick Flynn says: anything can be a room. Cat behaviourists say that the cat occupies the human being like a territory.
These characters have found the wrong room, attached themselves to the wrong territory. It’s not that they’re dysfunctional precisely, or that they don’t have goodwill, or even a sense of home, or a sense of the homeliness of their home. It’s only that they say one thing and their house says another.