One of the narrators. Bernard is friendly, garrulous, and in many
ways the glue that holds the group of friends together. He is the least snobbish
of the group, willing to talk to anyone as an equal. Bernard wants to become a
novelist, though his hopes go unfulfilled. By the end of the novel, however, he
achieves the greatest insight into the lives of the other
in-depth analysis of Bernard.
The headmaster at the private boarding school the boys attend. Dr.
Crane represents both traditional authority and religion, and the boys’
individual responses to him are telling. Neville despises him as a repressive,
pompous, insincere figure, while Louis admires him as the representative of the
English society he so much wants to be a part of. Bernard sees the headmaster
primarily as a character about whom he can spin a story.
One of the narrators. Jinny is a beautiful, upper-class woman who
leads the life of a glamorous socialite. She is grounded in the here-and-now,
rarely wondering about the deeper significance of events or the symbolic value
of things—a marked contrast to her friends. She is intensely physical, seeing
her body and her sexuality as her primary means of interacting with the world.
Jinny is perhaps the most static of the main characters, though she does come to
terms with her own aging.
in-depth analysis of Jinny.
One of the narrators. Louis’s father is an Australian banker, and
Louis is painfully aware of his own accent and his lower-class status in
comparison with his friends. He is driven by a desire to escape his position as
an outsider and to prove the superiority of his own intellect. Louis becomes a
successful businessman, but he also wants to become a poet in order to make
something permanent out of the passing disorder of everyday life. Louis is
attracted to both the concrete reality of life in London and the ideal realm of
art. He and Rhoda are lovers for a time, but she eventually leaves
in-depth analysis of Louis.
One of the narrators. Neville is refined, intellectual, and upper
class, with a deep appreciation of beauty. Neville loves Percival from afar,
admiring him for being everything Neville is not—athletic, charismatic, and
grounded in practical reality. After Percival’s death, Neville pursues many
different lovers, devoting himself intensely to each for a time and then moving
on. Neville desires order and beauty, and he tries to exclude much of the
disorder and ugliness of the world from his life by isolating himself with his
books and his lovers. Neville becomes a famous poet.
in-depth analysis of Neville.
A friend of each of the main characters. The boys meet Percival at
school, where he is one of the most popular students. Percival is handsome and
charismatic, a natural leader. He is killed when he is thrown from a horse in
India, where he has gone to work in the colonial government. Percival is in love
with Susan, though he does not act on it, and Neville is in love with him,
though Percival has no idea. Percival is an idealized figure for the other
characters, and they each respond deeply to his death, though in different
One of the narrators. Rhoda is introverted, highly sensitive, and
almost phobic when it comes to interacting with others. She tends to drift off
into her imagination as a means of escaping from social situations, and she
comes to feel that her own personality is insubstantial and illusory. Rhoda and
Louis become lovers, but Rhoda is terrified of intimacy and leaves him.
Eventually Rhoda’s sense of the transience of life and her own desire for
unconsciousness lead her to take her own life.
in-depth analysis of Rhoda.
One of the narrators. Susan hates city life and cannot wait to return
home from school to her family farm, where she wants to tend the land and raise
children. Susan is an earthy, passionate woman who is highly compelling to men,
though not as classically beautiful as Jinny. Susan has an intense relationship
with the land and with nature, but her cultivation of this natural bond leads to
the suppression of many of her other desires. Susan loves Bernard, for example,
but sacrifices any passion of her own for the sake of her family and her place
in the cycle of rural life.
in-depth analysis of Susan.