Renée Néré (reh-NAY nay-RAY), the narrator, a French mime and a dancer. Intelligent and largely self-aware, she divorced her husband after eight years of his adulteries and cruelties and has been struggling to support herself as a music hall performer in Paris for the past three years. She also was a writer but rationalizes that she can no longer afford the time for writing. She is still an attractive woman at thirty-three years of age but worries that she is losing her good looks. Her bitter marriage has made her determined to keep her independence, despite her sense of loneliness and thwarted sensuality, but when she is devotedly pursued by an admirer, Maxime, she succumbs to his lovemaking and agrees to become his mistress and even wife, after completing an already planned six-week tour of the provinces. She discovers, however, that her free identity and a desire to create with words mean more to her than attachment to any man and breaks with him to remain a vagabond and pursue a career.
Maxime Dufferein-Chautel (mak-SEEM dew-feh-REH[N]-shoh-TEHL), Renée’s black-haired, long-lashed admirer, with tawny brown eyes and full red lips under his mustache. He is a wealthy, idle man-about-town whose mother runs the family estate in...
(The entire section is 569 words.)