Kromer is seen by his more tentative friends, a bunch of graduate students and legal proof-readers, as some kind of satyr, yet he knows he is nothing in comparison to his former schoolmate, the reckless Greta, “a raven-haired, baggy-eyed heiress.” The story unfolds in the complicated middle ground that Kromer occupies. Were you ever tempted to make him one or the other—purely tentative or completely reckless?
I’m helpless not to wander into these middle ranges. The characters and situations that seem to compel me are the mutts, the neither-nors. But then again, nearly any character, viewed from the inside, and given the chance to complicate your question, might define themselves as being paradoxical or ambivalent—don’t we tend to compensate for the impression we make on others? I can hear Greta, having read the story, arguing that she’s really an old-fashioned girl at heart, hopes to meet Prince Charming, etc.—while the grad students would avidly protest that they had capacities for the wild side (or else why would they give Kromer the time of day in the first place?).