Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 403

There are many characters in In His Steps by Charles Monroe Sheldon, first published in 1896. Here is the breakdown of the most significant characters we encounter in the novel. 

Reverend Henry Maxwell is a pastor of the First Church of Raymond and also our main character. He challenges his...

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There are many characters in In His Steps by Charles Monroe Sheldon, first published in 1896. Here is the breakdown of the most significant characters we encounter in the novel. 

Reverend Henry Maxwell is a pastor of the First Church of Raymond and also our main character. He challenges his congregation to ask themselves "What Would Jesus Do?" before doing anything. His wife, Mary Maxwell, briefly appears at the beginning of the novel. 

The driving force behind this change is Jack Manning, a tramp who asks Maxwell for his help at the beginning of the novel, after the loss of his job and the death of his wife. Maxwell turns him away. However, Manning comes to the Sunday sermon and questions the lack of compassion of the congregation. He then collapses in the aisle and dies a week later. This sets off the chain of events. 

A group of nearly 50 people take the initial pledge, each changing some aspect of their life to be more compassionate and caring.

Rachel Winslow, a young singer, gives up a promising career and devotes her talent to God and helping people.

Edward Norman, the editor of the Daily News, decides not to publish on Sundays. The loss of revenue is compensated by a generous donation by Virginia Page, a wealthy heiress who has also taken the pledge. Her donation helps fund Norman's idea of creating a Christian Daily.

Donald Marsh and others organize a political campaign to eliminate saloons for their community, helped by another donation by Virginia. 

Virginia's brother, Rollin Page, is also very wealthy but is dissolute and spends his time in mens' social clubs. Rollin subsequently changes his ways and gives up his previous life; he eventually marries Rachel Winslow. 

Alexander Powers, another who has taken the pledge, resigns from his position as railroad superintendent after finding out that his company is not in accordance with commerce laws. 

Jasper Chase is the only exception we find in the novel. He takes the pledge but decides to write his novels with the aim of simply selling as many books as possible, consumed by his desire for fame and recognition. By doing this, he represents those who deny the Lord. 

More and more people take the pledge throughout the novel, changing their ways in order to be better Christians. Maxwell then realizes just how strong the impact of this pledge could be on the global Christian community. 

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