Other People’s Worlds is crowded with characters, and while many of them are evil, the central character, Julia Ferndale, saves others through her goodness—and saves the novel for readers. Julia is gullible and vulnerable, opening herself to a love that cannot be, but she transcends the tragedy of its reversal and becomes good and whole again. Somehow she finds the strength (it is partly her religion, partly her family, and partly herself) to act and to try to save not only herself but others—Joy Smith and Susanna Music, for example. At the end of the novel, she knows that “she couldn’t pack God and Francis Tyte away,” that she must accept both the good and the bad. “All she completely knew was that the niceness of her world was not entirely without purpose.” Part of its purpose has been to give her the strength and the character to save herself and others from the evil that exists so powerfully in the world.
Francis Tyte, on the other hand, is one of the most malevolent characters in modern fiction. He is, as Julia calls him, a psychopath, and as with perhaps most such people, readers can never know fully what has formed him. William Trevor presents Francis not from some critical distance, however, but from his sick and confused insides. Readers hear his anger at Doris for interfering again in his life, and then watch as the anger is spent in homosexual escape. Reared by older parents, seduced by a man when he was a child,...
(The entire section is 442 words.)