Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Narrator is the main character of the story. He's a scholarship student at the school. Though he was raised Catholic, his father is Jewish. His mother is dead. He yearns to have the same elite background as his classmates. Though he isn't good at most subjects, he does excel at English. After he loses the first two literary prizes from visiting authors, he plagiarizes a story for the final contest. Ernest Hemingway chooses his story and it's published. When the school finds out the story was plagiarized, he's kicked out and his acceptance to college is rescinded. He works a series of odd jobs, fights in the Vietnam War, and finally gets married and settles down to live with his wife and family as a writer.

Arch Makepeace is the dean of the school the narrator attends. Because of a conversation that he wasn't paying attention to, people think he knows Ernest Hemingway. When the narrator is kicked out of school, Makepeace decides that he needs to leave as well. He believes he, too, has been dishonest in never clarifying that he did not, in fact, know Hemingway. However, he returns to work at the school after a year away.

Mr. Ramsey is a young teacher from England. The narrator mentions that his young wife seemed to love him two years before but lately has been growing bored with him. When the narrator leaves school, he drives him to the station. At the end, when the narrator is an adult, Ramsey is the one who tells him Arch Makepeace's story.

Robert Frost is the first author to visit the school. He chooses George Kellogg's entry as the award winner.

Ayn Rand is the second author to visit the school. She chooses Big Jeff's entry as the award winner.

Ernest Hemingway is the final author to select a winner. He chooses the narrator's plagiarized entry.

Bill White is the narrator's roommate. He was raised Jewish. The narrator says he appears "so much the poster Aryan—so blond, so fair, so handsome."

Big Jeff Purcell is the winner of Ayn Rand's literary prize. He's the only vegetarian in school. His cousin, Little Jeff Purcell, is friends with the narrator.

George Kellogg is the editor of the literary review, which is called "Troubadour."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access