*Cambridge University. Prestigious English institution of higher learning at which Rickie is studying through the first part of the novel. Rickie’s rooms at one of the colleges are closely identified with a happy and inquiring frame of mind, all the more so as his intellectual hero, student-philosopher Steward Ansell, is nearby. Rickie’s drawing room has a fireplace, a sofa, a table, chairs, a piano, and a painting on a wall. The opening scene set here keynotes the entire novel inasmuch as Rickie and his fellow students, led by Ansell, are having a philosophical discussion on the nature of reality.
With no permanent home since he was orphaned at fifteen, and crippled by a congenital foot deformity, Rickie regards Cambridge as a secluded shelter between the stormy seas of his unhappy childhood and the uncertain world awaiting him in the future. Cambridge stands for friendliness, sensitivity, and mutual consideration. As he does with people, Rickie endows places with absolute beauty and goodness.
Sawston School. Boarding and day school for boys in an unspecified suburban community where Rickie goes to teach. There, he lives with his new wife, Agnes, and her brother, Herbert Pembroke, the master of Dunwood House, the school’s largest building. There, Rickie shares a study with Herbert. The house’s large saffron drawing room is full of cozy corners and dumpy chairs that receive parents. Nothing...
(The entire section is 611 words.)