Van is the reader's entry into the story. He is not as sexist as Jeff or Terry, but he struggles with the revelations he has as he learns about Herland and contrasts it with the world at home. As time passes, Van gains a new awareness of not only the world he has known, but of his own false beliefs.
Jeff struggles with the idea of women as equals, but he also adapts more easily than his friend Terry. His limitation is in seeing the women as being in need of protection. This "Southern gentleman" attitude confuses Celis, who eventually becomes his wife.
Terry's innate objection to women as independent is obvious from the first time he hears of a land populated solely by women. His first interaction with the women includes offering them baubles, trying to catch one, and pursuing her with a remark that this is what women expect and like. Throughout the text, Terry continues to see women as lesser beings and objectifies them. In his mind women are incapable of the very things he can see they have accomplished in their country.