Nuttie is the chief character. She develops from a noisy, enthusiastic schoolgirl to a cultured debutante, and then rigidly self-controlled young women. The latter stages are shown largely through editorial comment, though her intense love for her little brother is depicted in dialogue and action. The other two leading female characters are the two good wives, Alice in the early part of the novel, and Annaple, Mark's wife, in the latter. They are in marked contrast to each other, though both are devoted wives and mothers. Alice is humble, gentle, lacking in self-confidence, though firm to do what she thinks is right. Annaple is full of vitality, confident and joyous, however bad the circumstances. Nuttie's father, Mark and Mr. Dutton are mainly seen from the outside. The first has an air of high breeding which masks his weakness, indolence and selfishness. Nuttie may have endured his constant sarcasm the better, in that Mr. Dutton had used the same method to control her as a young girl. His switch to admiration of her adult character seems somewhat improbable. Mark's character is more consistent. He is an upright, rather priggish young man, eager to enter what he sees as the real world of work, but not really good at it, and as a devoted husband and father glad to return to a life easier and healthier for his family.