Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Vogel farm. Home of the orphaned Jesse’s stern and unloving grandfather, where he is taken to live after recovering from his gunshot wound. The farm is located in a rural area outside Yewville, in a place where people live empty lives of “sleep, wake, and work.” Grandfather Vogel keeps the shabby furnishings salvaged from Jesse’s former home locked in his barn and refuses to let Jesse see any of them, thereby denying him tangible links to his past.
*Lockport. New York town to whose nearby Niagara School for Boys Jesse is sent by his aunt and uncle to board. At first, he lives in a dark red building enclosed by fences. However he is adopted by Dr. Pedersen, who lives in a three-story mansion on Locust Street in Lockport. Pedersen’s house has a cavernous foyer and a beautiful music room, but what most impresses Jesse is that he has a room entirely his own for the first time in his life.
Pedersen, his wife, and son are grotesquely fat. Pedersen is a self-indulgent megalomaniac who tries to control everyone in his household. He makes Jesse become a serious student, dedicated to a career in medicine. After Jesse helps Pedersen’s wife escape Pedersen’s control, Pedersen disowns him, making him once again an orphan.
*Chicago. City in which Jesse does his internship after earning a degree in medicine at the University of Michigan. During this period, he lives first in the basement of a three-story frame house but eventually moves to the top floor. There, he lives among slobs who linger in the hallways and with a dominating landlady. After several inconsequential relationships Jesse marries Helene Cady, the respectably boring daughter of a Nobel Prize-winning medical researcher, and with her moves into a small apartment in a four-story brownstone near his hospital.
Jesse and Helene lead separate lives together. Hospital work for Jesse is a blur of frenzied and impersonal activities. His intentions are to be an impersonal presence to do people good. Jesse’s ability and hard work attract the notice of Dr. Perrault, a top surgeon who makes Jesse his assistant at his own clinic. Jesse now becomes Perrault’s younger self, inheriting both his likes and dislikes, and still has no true personal life of his own. After Perrault retires, Jesse takes charge of the clinic.
*Winnetka. Town in Illinois where the newly prosperous Jesse purchases a mansion near Lake Michigan. It has forty-eight windows and a huge living room that Jesse uses only to pace the floor nervously. What most concerns him is his young daughter, Shelley, who has run away with her dominating and sociopathic hippie boyfriend, Noel. He traces Shelley to Greenwich Village in New York City. The search proves fruitless.
*Toronto. City in Canada’s Ontario Province where Jesse finds his daughter in a derelict apartment on Yonge Street, where she is living with Noel and several other men. Shelley is sick and malnourished, and Jesse almost kills Noel but instead causes him to flee in fright. The novel ends with Shelley believing that her father is the devil come to take her home.