Johnny’s transformation from selfish child to selfless man begins when he meets Rab Silsbee. The immediate connection he feels to the understated, temperate Rab signals something deep within his own character that we did not see before. Johnny is drawn to the elements in Rab’s character that are opposite to his own, and he soon finds himself trying to change to become more like Rab. Days after he first meets Rab, he is already comparing his own actions to Rab’s and wondering what Rab would do in certain situations. The new Johnny that eventually emerges, we are led to believe, might never have existed had Johnny not chosen to build a friendship with Rab and Rab’s world.
Johnny is not the only evolving character in the book. Isannah also has a choice of which path to take as she matures into a young woman. She might become gracious, noble, and passionate, or she might continue to build her selfish, arrogant, and conceited nature. As with Johnny, the path Isannah ultimately takes is determined by the choice she makes with regard to her friends. Instead of remaining loyal to her loving, kind sister, Isannah lets herself be seduced by the elegance and glamour of Lavinia Lyte. Under Lavinia’s influence, Isannah’s vices become even more pronounced. She becomes addicted to the fine clothes and food that Lavinia can provide, and she thrives on the doting attention she now receives from important people. When Isannah is asked to choose between Cilla and Lavinia forever, Isannah has already gone too far down a corrupted path to resist the high life that Lavinia offers her, and she leaves her sister behind.