A successful businessman and the story’s protagonist. Dexter grew up in Keeble, a small Minnesota village, the son of a grocer and Bohemian mother. Ambitious and eager, he works hard to gain the trappings of wealth and status. Dexter both celebrates and denies his humble working-class origins. He feels like a trespasser in the halls of the affluent, but at the same time he feels superior for having worked his way into the upper ranks, a group comprising people for whom he has little respect.
The daughter of the affluent Mortimer Jones. Glowing with vitality, Judy is aloof, charming, and irresistible to many men, including Dexter. She is alluring, unattainable, and whimsical, concerned only with the gratification of her desires. Judy does not seem to be fully aware of how manipulative she is toward the various suitors who pursue her—or if she is aware, she doesn’t care.
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A wealthy member of the Sherry Island Gold Club and Judy’s father. In one of Dexter’s fantasies, Mr. Jones watches Dexter amaze the club members with his mastery of the springboard. The real Mr. Jones approaches Dexter one day, with tears in his eyes, proclaiming him the best caddy and exhorting him not to quit.
A pillar of the community. Mr. Hedrick is the man Dexter trounces in his imaginary golf tournaments. Dexter does eventually golf with Mr. Hedrick, who emerges as a bore with few skills as a player. On the course, Mr. Hedrick is hit in the stomach by an errant ball struck by Judy Jones.
Dexter’s fiancée. Irene is light-haired, sweet, and honorable. Dexter breaks her heart by cheating on her with Judy.
Irene’s mother. A kind presence, Mrs. Scheerer likes Dexter and the idea of him becoming her son-in-law. Dexter’s betrayal of Irene hurts her deeply.
A successful man who admires young Dexter’s drive and work ethic. Mr. Hart gives Dexter a weekend guest pass to the Sherry Island Golf Club.
A member of the Sherry Island Golf Club who golfs one day with the twenty-three-year-old Dexter. Mr. Sandwood is captivated by Judy Jones’s beauty.
A businessman from Detroit who visits Dexter in New York. Devlin informs Dexter that Judy married one of Devlin’s best friends, the couple is unhappily married, and Judy has lost her legendary good looks.