Authors who write fiction, drama, and poetry may make use of a "foil," which is a literary device employed to compare and contrast one thing to another. In this case, Duncan is a foil—most likely to Peter.
Duncan is not nearly as together as Peter is. He is unnaturally thin (Marian actually describes him as "cadaverously thin") and appears to be completely engrossed in his own wants and needs. He does not have much of a sense of direction for where he wants his future to go, and he is not as attractive as Peter. He's also quite manipulative, and even though he lies easily, he convinces Marian that he is adventurous, exciting, and seeking something real. Marian can't resist being drawn to him.
Peter is the complete opposite of Duncan. A handsome, accomplished attorney, Peter and Marian are engaged, and Peter loves to parade Marian around like she's a prize. He dictates what she wears, how she styles her hair, and how she should behave when she's on his arm. Peter has concrete...
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