The protagonist of the novel. Robert is a handsome, intelligent, athletic young Canadian man who comes from an affluent family. He is the second child of Mr. Ross and Mrs. Ross and the brother of… read analysis of Robert Ross
Lady Juliet d’Orsey
The fourth child of the Marquis and Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s, who own St. Aubyn’s abbey in London. She is the sister of Barbara, Clive, Michael, and Temple d’Orsey. As… read analysis of Lady Juliet d’Orsey
Lady Barbara d’Orsey
The third child of the Marquis and Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s, who own St. Aubyn’s abbey in London. She is the sister of Juliet, Clive, Michael, and Temple d’Orsey. Barbara… read analysis of Lady Barbara d’Orsey
Captain Eugene Taffler
A soldier whom Robert Ross and Clifford Purchas meet on the prairie during their training in Lethbridge, Alberta. He is a decorated hero who is renowned among Robert’s fellow soldiers, having returned to Canada after… read analysis of Captain Eugene Taffler
The wife of Thomas Ross and the mother of Robert, Rowena, Stuart, and Peggy Ross. Having lost both her younger brother Monty Miles Raymond and her daughter Rowena in tragic accidents… read analysis of Mrs. Ross
The eldest child of Mr. Ross and Mrs. Ross and the sister of Robert, Peggy, and Stuart Ross. She is handicapped by a disease called hydrocephalus and spends her life bound to… read analysis of Rowena Ross
Mr. Thomas Ross
The husband of Mrs. Ross and father of Robert, Rowena, Stuart, and Peggy Ross. Thomas is the wealthy owner of Raymond/Ross Industries, a company that manufactures farm equipment. During World War… read analysis of Mr. Thomas Ross
Marian / Miss Turner
A French military nurse who takes care of Robert Ross at Bois de Madeleine hospital after he commits a series of war crimes and sustains severe, disfiguring burns. As with Juliet d’Orsey, the narration… read analysis of Marian / Miss Turner
Robert Ross’s O.C. (Officer Commanding) from Wytsbrouk. Robert first meets Captain Leather after his dugout is bombed in the Battle of St. Eloi. Leather unsympathetic toward his men and detached from the dangers of… read analysis of Captain Leather
A visiting soldier from Lahore who is one of Robert Ross’s bunkmates in the dugout at St. Eloi. Rodwell shares Robert’s love of animals and keeps a pet toad and other small creatures in… read analysis of Rodwell
Robert Ross’s fellow junior officer who becomes one of his bunkmates in the dugout at St. Eloi. He is helpful and resourceful, risking his own life to save Robert and Willie Poole from drowning… read analysis of Levitt
A bugler assigned to Robert Ross in Belgium. Though, like Robert, he is nineteen years old, Poole looks and sounds young for his age. He is described an “uncomplicated” and has an innocent demeanor that… read analysis of Willie Poole
An officer from Regina, Saskatchewan, who is in charge of the Mortar Squads in St. Eloi, whom Robert Ross is paired up with him after his dugout is bombed. Robert leads Bates and the other… read analysis of Corporal Bates
The youngest child of Mr. Ross and Mrs. Ross and the brother of Robert, Rowena, and Peggy Ross. Like other young boys his age, he glorifies war and is even excited at… read analysis of Stuart Ross
The third child of Mr. Ross and Mrs. Ross and the sister of Robert, Rowena, and Stuart Ross. Peggy is a popular young woman who has many boyfriends. She dates Clinton Brown… read analysis of Peggy Ross
A close friend of Mrs. Ross who comes to stay with the family during Mrs. Ross’s gradual deterioration after Robert goes off to war. She maintains a charitable and patriotic public image, handing out candy… read analysis of Miss Davenport
Clive d’Orsey / Lord Clive Stourbridge
The eldest child of the Marquis and Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s, who own St. Aubyn’s abbey in London. He is the brother of Barbara, Clive, Michael, and Temple d’Orsey. Growing… read analysis of Clive d’Orsey / Lord Clive Stourbridge
Captain James / Jamie Villiers
An old friend of Clive d’Orsey and ex-lover of Barbara d’Orsey. Juliet d’Orsey believes that Jamie and Clive, who grew up riding horses together, were emotionally in love with each other in the same… read analysis of Captain James / Jamie Villiers
Monty Miles Raymond
Mrs. Ross’s younger brother who is killed in a trolley car accident when she is a young woman about to be married to Mr. Ross. Monty’s death is the first of many personal… read analysis of Monty Miles Raymond
A former classmate of Robert Ross at St. Andrews boarding school, who also becomes a soldier and trains with Robert in Lethbridge, Alberta, as part of a detail that breaks wild mustangs to use as… read analysis of Clifford Purchas
One of the soldiers, along with Lieutenant Bonnycastle, whom Robert Ross and Levitt relieve of their position in the dugout at St. Eloi. Devlin dreams of owning an antique shop and collects valuables from… read analysis of Devlin
One of the soldiers, along with Devlin, whom Robert Ross and Levitt relieve of their position in the dugout at St. Eloi. He argues with Levitt over Clausewitz on War and with Robert over… read analysis of Lieutenant Bonnycastle
The commanding officer of the troops who are stationed near La Chodrelle when Robert Ross passes through with the large number of horses that he has freed from the Military Compound. After Robert allegedly kills… read analysis of Major Mickle
Battery Sergeant Major Joyce
The officer who supervises the horse detail aboard the S.S. Massanabie. After Robert Ross takes over Harris’s job of watching over the horses, B.S.M. Joyce is the one who delivers the news that… read analysis of Battery Sergeant Major Joyce
A prostitute who works at Maria Dreyfus’s brothel, Wet Goods. She pairs up with Robert Ross when his fellow soldiers at the army training camp pressure him into going to the brothel. During their… read analysis of Ella
A young picket from Regina, Saskatchewan who cares for the military horses in the hold of the S.S. Massanabie. Regis is only sixteen, having lied about his age in order to enlist in the… read analysis of Regis
Major Ralph Terry
One of the soldiers recovering at St. Aubyn’s convalescence hospital. Major Terry initially has a romantic relationship with Barbara d’Orsey, but Barbara loses interest in him when Robert Ross arrives. Juliet d’Orsey mischievously… read analysis of Major Ralph Terry
The second child of the Marquis and Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s, who own St. Aubyn’s abbey in London. He is the brother of Juliet, Barbara, Clive, and Temple d’Orsey. Like… read analysis of Michael d’Orsey
The Marquis of St. Aubyn’s
The aristocratic owner of St. Aubyn’s abbey in London. He is the husband of Lady Emmeline d’Orsey and the father of Juliet, Barbara, Clive, Michael, and Temple d’Orsey. The Marquis… read analysis of The Marquis of St. Aubyn’s
Lady Emmeline d’Orsey / The Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s
The wife of the Marquis of St. Aubyn’s and mother of Juliet, Barbara, Clive, Michael, and Temple d’Orsey. Her husband owns the St. Aubyn’s abbey in London, which she convinces… read analysis of Lady Emmeline d’Orsey / The Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s
One of Peggy Ross’s many boyfriends. Clinton attends Harvard University before he enlists in World War I and eventually dies in the battle for Belleau Wood in 1918. Seeing Clinton in his military uniform… read analysis of Clinton Brown
Findley occasionally refers to the reader from a second-person point of view, creating the sense that the reader is a direct participant in the story. At the beginning and end of the novel, the reader… read analysis of The Reader
The soldier whom Robert Ross allegedly shoots and kills when he tries to prevent Robert from passing through La Chodrelle. This act is what gives rise to Major Mickle pursuing Robert and trapping him in the burning barn.
A young woman whom Robert Ross dates before he goes off to war. Heather confuses Robert, and he is not nearly as interested in her as she is in him. They have a falling-out after she yells at him in the middle of a Ross family party.
One of the men who shares a stateroom with Robert Ross, Clifford Purchas, and Harris on the S.S. Massanabie. On the second day at sea, he claims to have lost his voice and spends the rest of the voyage drinking brandy and reading G.A. Henty novels in bed.
The youngest child of the Marquis and Marchioness of St. Aubyn’s, who own St. Aubyn’s abbey in London. She is the sister of Juliet, Barbara, Clive, and Michael d’Orsey. At five years old, Temple is twelve-year-old Juliet’s only playmate.
A large, mute Swedish man who greets Robert Ross and the other soldiers at the door on their way into the Wet Goods brothel. Robert is later shocked to see the Swede and Captain Taffler having intercourse wherein they role-play as a horse and a rider.
The madam of the Wet Goods brothel outside of Lethbridge, Alberta, where Robert is training for the army. She is a small Jewish woman with frizzy red hair, a German accent, and an intimidating presence.
A man who is assigned to convoy duty with Robert Ross in Belgium and goes through the battle of St. Eloi with Robert and the other soldiers.
An employee from the Raymond/Ross Industries factory whom Mr. Ross hires to kill Rowena’s pet rabbits after her death.