The relationship between the three young artists is the most important of the book, and Hartley's discovery of a sexual encounter between Angie and Robert is a major event. At first Hartley feels betrayed and humiliated but then, somehow, he accepts that the man and woman closest to him have a relationship that excludes him. Robert is beautiful (we are told this often), endlessly kind, and supremely talented. He is an alcoholic—but, disappointingly, this aspect of his character is not developed in any depth. As a result, he is more picturesque than believable.