James Bohun is an older man deceived by his own moderate intellectual gifts and physical virility (which he retains into dotage). As a Methodist minister, he believes that he should be able to keep his own life in order as well as the lives of others looking (or even not looking) to him for guidance. Perhaps to save God the trouble, or perhaps simply to make sure that things are done properly, James assumes a position of authority within his small world and becomes not only self-righteous but arrogant and pushy as well. Presuming on his own generous estimate of his gifts, his godly calling, and a trace of aristocratic blood somewhere in the family line, James strides through life aware of his triumphs but woefully ignorant of his shortcomings or the strengths of others. His character is consistent throughout the novel and similar to the emperor who paraded so proudly in his “new clothes.”
Jeremy is an attractive character when the reader meets him, employed at a laborer’s job, enjoying the company and admiring the philosophy of simple working men; upon returning home, he is put off by his father’s unbecoming blend of arrogance and insensitivity. As time goes on, however, Jeremy loses this wholesome, commonsense perspective and becomes increasingly like his father. Jeremy is more reflective than James, yet, when it becomes apparent to him that he is duplicating his father’s life, he seems unperturbed and willing to continue. Previously he had...
(The entire section is 437 words.)