Klima, a rich and famous jazz trumpeter. Klima is a polite and gallant gentleman who loves his wife immensely yet needs to be with other women occasionally. For him, these affairs strengthen the erotic passion of his marriage. Deep down, he dreads all women and feels doomed to fall victim to the power that pregnancy gives them over men. This fear is realized when Ruzena makes her paternity claim on him. He is generally a calm, reasonable, and clear-thinking man, but in trying to persuade Ruzena to have an abortion, his nerves overcome him and cause him inadvertently to say and do things he later regrets. A clever and imaginative liar, Klima ultimately is a bumbler and muddles through only by luck and the intervention of others. Professionally, he loves playing the trumpet but is not truly comfortable with his fame as an artist. Too much attention worries him.
Ruzena, a nurse at a health and fertility spa in the mountains. Ruzena is a forthright and hard-edged young woman, a moderately attractive blond in a desolate rural existence. She envies the wealthy married women she attends and fears that she will have to settle for a life with Franta, whom she loathes but tolerates. She likes power and longs for excitement. She spends one night with Klima and convinces herself that he is therefore responsible for her pregnancy, which offers a way out of her current existence. At first, she is determined to have the baby. She is swayed by those around her, however—her friends one way and Klima the other—and ends up confused and indecisive, not knowing what she wants or whom she can trust.
Bartleff, an older American patient at the spa. Bartleff is a jovial bon vivant who, in spite of serious illness, energetically loves and affirms life. He is married to a younger woman who recently bore him (he assumes) a son. He is intelligent and well read, especially in religion and philosophy, and he paints striking religious pictures as a hobby. Talkative, generous, and often theatrical, he usually is the center of attention.
(The entire section is 872 words.)