Stephen Gordon is the main character of the novel. Stephen is the daughter of an English lord and his wife. Stephen is their only child, conceived after ten years of trying. Sir Philip had wanted a boy named Stephen, so he began calling his child Stephen even while she was still in her mother's womb. When the child was born and turned out to be a girl, Sir Philip insisted on keeping the name Stephen. Both parents adore their child as she grows out of infancy, but when she enters childhood and moves on through adolescence, both parents begin to become aware of a difference in their child.