Maurice Bendrix, the first-person protagonist, is sometimes an unreliable narrator, for he is so consumed by jealousy, self-pity, self-hatred, and bitterness, that he measures everyone else by himself. Accordingly, he often misjudges Sarah and Henry Miles, and he certainly misjudges God. Bendrix confesses that from time to time “a demon” takes possession of his brain. Though an atheist, Bendrix can believe in a personal devil, which is the enemy of love. On their first meeting, Sarah observes to him, “You do seem to dislike a lot of people.” A problem with the novel is how to make such a character sympathetic. Bendrix himself believes he is unlovable except to a parent or a god. He quarrels so frequently and pointlessly with Sarah that it is difficult to see what she loves in him. He does, however, have some redeeming features-an ironic sense of humor, the analytic intelligence of a novelist, his reluctant sympathy for Parkis and for Henry, with whom he becomes closer in their mutual grief for the woman they both loved, and at bottom his love for Sarah and his potential love for God. To Smythe, Bendrix says that he believes in nothing, “except now and then” he has “moments of hope.” He is redeemed also because Sarah cares for him; she writes in her journal that Maurice “thinks he hates, and loves, loves all the time-even his enemies.” Furthermore, he is aware of his faults, confesses them to the reader, and admits he is “lost in a strange region” without a map.
Sarah Miles, to whom Bendrix was initially attracted because of her beauty, her...
(The entire section is 645 words.)