Lewis Eliot, a young lawyer from a working-class family. During an internship year in London, Lewis becomes a close friend of Charles March and a frequent guest in the family home. Lewis’ primary function in the novel is that of observer. Although he is an outsider, Lewis earns the trust of all the members of Charles’s immediate family and becomes their confidant. Lewis sometimes tries to play a more active role in the lives of the Marches, but he fails in his attempt to avert the scandal that threatens them, and he also fails to effect desired reconciliations, first between Charles and his father, then later between Charles and his sister Katherine. Lewis, however, remains friendly with all the members of the family.
Charles March, a young lawyer from a wealthy Jewish family. Although he performs well in his first case, Charles decides to leave his profession, which he believes will restrict him to the company of wealthy Jews. Ironically, it is a Jewish girl, Ann Simon, with whom he falls in love and eventually marries. Once Charles realizes that the source of his unhappiness is not his Jewish background but the guilt he feels because of his sadistic impulses, he can proceed with his life. He marries Ann and, despite his father’s disapproval, becomes a doctor. His loyalty to Ann causes his father to reject him and costs him his inheritance, but he finds happiness with her and fulfillment in service to others.
Leonard March, Charles’s father, a member of one of the wealthiest and most powerful Jewish...
(The entire section is 665 words.)