David Kitzinger, an architect and father of three. David is a dreamer and a schemer, a man of vision who gets caught up in ideas and concepts, especially his own. He loves architecture for the thrill of creating concrete reality from scratch and the challenge of overcoming practical obstacles. He conceives a plan to build high-rise public housing on a tract of slum land on Basuto Road in southeastern London, but the scheme grows and expands until it becomes overwhelmingly unpopular. Accepting the defeat of his plan breaks his spirit. David is concerned with helping others, but his concern is seldom responsive to their particular tangible needs. His mathematical mind is reflected in his moral attitudes: To him, independence—the integrity of things or people—is a supreme virtue. His desire to be fair and objective, to respect everyone’s rights and desires and never to take sides, results in a kind of moral blindness. His purported magnanimity often is only a form of arrogance and egotism, most clearly evident in the patronizing attitude and pity he exhibits toward Colin and Sheila.
Jane Kitzinger, David’s wife. Jane is a former anthropologist who has been helping with David’s architectural practice and eventually becomes a caseworker with a housing trust in southwestern London. Jane is a realist who retains a healthy perspective on life and accepts things exactly as they are. She plays devil’s advocate to her husband’s schemes when necessary, but generally she is an extremely supportive wife and assistant. Intelligent, organized, and industrious, Jane is capable and often takes on more than her share of problems and responsibilities, never begrudgingly. She truly enjoys accommodating others, generously and diplomatically, and works hard to make things run...
(The entire section is 755 words.)