Oliver Alden, a young man who despises human weakness. He is a puritan in spite of himself. He is not prudish or a prig; he simply and truly believes that one must do one’s duty, whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. He does not really believe in love, because it is illogical and unreasonable at times; for this reason, he is rejected by the two women to whom, out of a sense of duty, he proposes. At the end of his life, he provides in his will for all the people to whom he feels responsible, but he leaves the largest sum to his mother because he feels it is his duty to do so.
Peter Alden, Oliver’s father, who spends most of his life wandering about the world. He marries the daughter of a psychiatrist because the psychiatrist tells him that what he needs to cure his mostly imaginary ills are a home and a wife. He commits suicide in order to free Oliver of a sense of duty toward him.
Harriet Alden, Oliver’s mother. She does not allow Oliver to play with other children, because they might be vulgar or dirty, and she allows Oliver no exposure to the frivolities of life.
Fraulein Irma Schlote
Fraulein Irma Schlote, Oliver’s governess, who gives Oliver a love of nature and of the German language and brings a little light into his childhood.
Jim Darnley, Oliver’s closest...
(The entire section is 419 words.)