Eugene Witla, a sensitive young man with vaguely artistic aspirations. Haunted by an ideal of beauty, he is led to become an artist and to fall in love with many women. Finding no enduring peace in his search for beauty, he seeks it in social and financial success with the same negative results. After years of dryness, his impulse toward beauty is reawakened by his infant daughter, around whom he begins to weave impossible dreams for their future together.
Angela Blue, a young schoolteacher seduced by and later married to Eugene. In an attempt to save their marriage, she has a baby against all medical advice, and she dies in childbirth, leaving her husband with a daughter who revives his interest in artistic endeavor.
Angela Witla, the daughter of Eugene and Angela. She becomes her father’s inspiration for a renewed interest in his artistic life.
Stella Appleton, Eugene’s first love.
Margaret Duff, Eugene’s first mistress.
Ruby Kenny, an artist’s model and mistress of Eugene.
Miriam Finch, a sculptress Eugene meets in New York.
Christina Channing, a singer. She and Miriam become friends of Eugene and help educate him in the ways of the New York artistic world. Christina becomes Eugene’s mistress briefly.
Anatole Charles, an art dealer and exhibitor of Eugene’s paintings.
Frieda Roth, a young woman attractive to Eugene.
Carlotta Wilson, a gambler’s wife with whom Eugene has a passionate affair.
Marshall P. Colfax
Marshall P. Colfax, and
Florence J. White
Florence J. White, Eugene’s associates in the publishing and advertising businesses. White is jealous of Eugene’s rise in the company and cheerfully helps Mrs. Dale get him fired.
Suzanne Dale, a young woman with whom Eugene falls in love. Her influential mother takes her away and has Eugene fired from his job.
Mrs. Emily Dale
Mrs. Emily Dale, a wealthy socialite, mother of Suzanne.
Thomas Witla, Eugene’s father.
Myrtle Witla, Eugene’s sisters.
Mrs. Johns, a Christian Science practitioner.