(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

Parris Mitchell lived with his German-born grandmother. Speaking English with a decided accent, he seemed different from the other boys his own age, and he was, consequently, much alone. He had only a few friends. There was Jamie Wakefield, whom Parris liked but who made him feel uncomfortable. There was Renee, with whom he went swimming and experienced his first love affair. Renee suddenly moved away. Later, Cassandra Tower gave herself to him. Although he always remembered Renee, he was also in love with Cassie. His best friend was another orphan like himself, Drake McHugh, a young idler whose life was almost completely concerned with women.

Parris studied with Cassie’s father, Dr. Tower, a mysterious figure in Kings Row, but a doctor who other physicians admitted was superior to them in knowledge. Parris’ grandmother, Madame von Eln, saw to it, too, that he studied the piano with Dr. Perdorff. His grandmother arranged her affairs so that he could go to Vienna for his medical studies.

He knew that his grandmother was dying because Cassie Tower told him so. Shortly after her death, Cassie herself died, shot by Dr. Tower, who later committed suicide, leaving his money and property to Parris. Parris went to stay with Drake McHugh, who lived by himself following the deaths of his aunt and uncle. Drake told Parris not to mention to anyone his connection with the Towers. No one knew why Dr. Tower had killed himself and Cassie. While going through Dr. Tower’s papers, Parris discovered that Dr. Tower had been having incestuous relations with his daughter.

While Parris was in Europe, Drake continued his life of pleasure. His romance with Louise Gordon, the daughter of a local doctor, was forbidden by her parents. Drake made plans to invest in a real-estate...

(The entire section is 736 words.)