Theron Ware, a young Methodist minister whose religious training and faith are too frail to support the stresses of his life. Unhappy as a small-town minister, he decides to write a book about Abraham, only to find that his learning is too slight on this or any intellectual subject. He learns that his Catholic acquaintances have a great deal more culture than he. As his faith totters, he becomes suspicious of people and alienates his friends and his wife. He proves unfit for the ministry and becomes a real-estate agent.
Alice Ware, a friendly, cheerful young woman, Theron’s wife. Though she is accused by her husband of being unfaithful, she is loyal to him. When he falls ill, she nurses him back to health and helps him prepare for a new career.
Celia Madden, a pretty Irish-Catholic girl who becomes friendly with Theron and helps him discover that his prejudices are groundless. Her cultural interests also show him how thin the culture of his own people is. She is wrongly and outrageously accused by Theron of being in love with Father Forbes. For a time, Theron thinks he is in love with her, but he alienates her by saying that he is afraid of scandal if he is seen talking to her.
Father Forbes, a Catholic priest who becomes Theron’s friend until Theron alienates him by talking slightingly about Dr. Ledsmar, the priest’s friend, and by following the priest and Celia to New York.
Dr. Ledsmar, a friend of Father Forbes and Theron. He is alienated when Theron suggests that there is a scandalous relationship between Father Forbes and Celia.
Mr. Soulsby, a professional revivalist. He tries to convince the young minister that his sales approach to religion is not hypocritical. When Theron falls ill and leaves the ministry, Mr. Soulsby proves to be a true friend.
Mrs. Soulsby, Mr. Soulsby’s wife, a practical woman who with her husband helps Theron make a new start in life as a real estate agent.
Mr. Gorringe, a trustee of Theron’s church, the man whom Theron suspects of having an affair with his wife.
Michael Madden, Celia’s brother. Taking a dying man’s privilege, he tells Theron how others see the young minister.