This is a tough question because it goes to the complex manner in which Dubus has constructed his characters. On one hand, Behrani, Kathy, and Lester are not incapable of acting on their own. They each possess the ability to develop their own conceptions in the hopes of making their lives better. Behrani's hopes of flipping properties for profit and generating wealth from it, as well as Kathy's intense pursuit of her property as something that will provide meaning to her life, and Lester's desire to "save" Kathy and himself are all examples of this. In this, it is clear that they are acting as agents of their own being. No one is forcing them or subjugating them to do what they do. Yet, it is also evident that they are being motivated by personal demons that drive them and their state of being in the world. Behrani is driven by the need to replicate the lifestyle he and his family led in Iran. Kathy is driven by her own past demons of the inability to maintain a relationship with a man and to make sense of her life. Lester is driven by the desire to save Kathy, something that was fostered by his own past of being a victim of a broken home. In this, the characters are driven and something not of their own volition by what has happened in their own past.