Lucy is the narrator and central character of the novel. Her voice and her sensibilities lead the reader through the book’s rambling episodes. The contradictions in Lucy’s character are the contradictions that adolescence seems to create. On one hand, Lucy is a keen and sometimes satiric observer of her new world. She laughs at American excesses and pities American provincialism. She also has insight into others’ motivations. She suspects the affair between Dinah and Lewis long before Mariah knows about it, and she understands her mother’s advice about siding with women rather than men to mean that she should never get involved with another woman’s husband. In many ways, Lucy understands herself. She knows that she will not be sorry to part with Hugh; she knows that she cannot tell Peggy about her artistic interest in photography. What she does not understand completely is her relationship with her mother. She does not see that although she may refuse to read her mother’s letters, may refuse all contact with her, she will always be her mother’s daughter, just as her mother predicted.
Mariah functions as the means by which Lucy is introduced to American life and ideas. In that way, like Peggy, she serves as a foil to Lucy. Wealthy, beautiful, naïve about the world outside her own sphere, she is the object both of Lucy’s admiration and of her scorn.
Dinah is scarcely developed as a character in the novel. She exists just fully...
(The entire section is 467 words.)