The most important character in this novel is Angela Murray, since the entire story is about her intellectual, artistic, and moral development. Every incident and every other character is described from Angela’s point of view, although the narration is in the third person. This literary device has the effect of making Angela seem extremely perceptive and sensitive, as she is intended to be. She analyzes the people she meets with unerring accuracy; however, she generally keeps her own counsel, and her observations and conclusions are conveyed to readers through the dispassionate third-person narrator.
Angela’s character evolves in the face of the disillusioning experiences she undergoes during the thirteen years spanned by the novel. Fauset highlights these experiences with significant scenes that strike directly at readers’ emotions. For example, when Virginia first comes to New York, Angela is at the train depot to meet her. Just before the train arrives, Roger Fielding suddenly appears by chance and stands talking to Angela, who wants him to believe she is white and dreads having him discover that the dark-skinned Virginia is her sister. When Virginia comes forward to greet her beloved sister after a long period of separation, Angela makes the bitter decision to pretend she does not know her. This moving scene, more than any other in the novel, makes Angela realize how much she had changed. The memory keeps coming back to haunt her.
Another significant scene occurs when Angela and Fielding are having dinner at a fashionable restaurant and...
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