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The handsome, thirty-five-year-old protagonist of the story. Once worth a small fortune, Charlie spent all his money in Paris during the mid-1920s. An alcoholic, he collapsed along with the stock market in 1929. Since regaining his sobriety and financial footing as a businessman in Prague, Charlie has become ashamed of his past recklessness. He adores his daughter, Honoria, and misses his wife, Helen, for whose death he may bear partial responsibility.
Read an in-depth analysis of Charlie Wales.
Charlie’s daughter. Honoria is a sunny, smart nine-year-old. She loves her father dearly and, although she is happy enough with Marion and Lincoln, wants to live with Charlie. A smart girl, she has a rich inner life and thinks about difficult subjects such as money and love. Honoria claims that she misses her mother, but she doesn’t seem to remember her well.
Charlie’s sister-in-law. Marion resents Charlie both because of his former recklessness and because she believes he mistreated her sister, Helen. Marion fixates on the night Charlie locked Helen out of the house during a snowstorm and believes he’s responsible for her death. Marion understands why Charlie wants Honoria to live with him, but she worries that he will lapse back into his old ways.
Read an in-depth analysis of Marion Peters.
Marion’s husband and Charlie’s brother-in-law. Lincoln lacks Charlie’s knack for business, but he is a solid, responsible father and husband. He is quieter than his wife and more sympathetic to Charlie’s desire to live with Honoria. Still, his primary loyalty is to Marion, whom he truly loves. He takes Marion’s side whenever he believes that Charlie’s actions are hurting her.
Charlie’s deceased wife. Helen passed away many years before and appears in the story only as a figure in Charlie’s dream. She and Charlie loved each other deeply, and it seems they destroyed their relationship for no real reason. Even though their marriage ended badly, they did love each other, which is why Helen appears encouraging and loving in Charlie’s dream.
A thirty-year-old blonde American woman. Lorraine is a figure from Charlie’s debauched past. She too has lost her fortune but hasn’t stopped trying to live the way she did when she had money. Now a sad, almost pathetic figure, she chases after Charlie, whose newfound sobriety both amuses her and makes her jealous.
Lorraine’s companion and an American who attended college with Charlie. Duncan, who doesn’t say much, amplifies Lorraine’s recklessness. He accompanies Lorraine wherever she goes, drinks when she drinks, and unexpectedly arrives at Marion and Lincoln’s house with her.
Marion and Lincoln’s children. Elsie and Richard are about Honoria’s age, well behaved, but don’t perform as well in school as Honoria.
A bartender at the Ritz. In the days of great wealth, he drove a fancy car to work.
A bartender at the Ritz. Alix gives Charlie updates on the Americans who used to live in Paris.