Harry has a nonchalant, practical, and cynical attitude toward his circumstances. He drinks alcohol despite his failing health and treats his wife rudely. As the story progresses, he's shown to be reflective and full of regret, wishing he'd written more about his life and feeling he's failed in his responsibilities as a writer. His war experiences deeply affected him, as did his time living in Paris and his encounters with fellow travelers and expatriates.
Helen is generous and kind, though distraught by Harry's progressing illness and his casual cruelty toward her. Despite the ease her wealth provides her, she's suffered great personal loss. Her first husband died early in their marriage, and one of her children died in a plane crash. After her child's death, she married Harry to start a new life.