Baldwin's drawing of characters and nuanced treatment of the topic is beautiful and striking. David, the protagonist, is unable to accept his sexuality and is constantly lamenting his compromised manhood, while his girlfriend has decided to give up her party lifestyle and settle for a stereotypical womanhood. Although their stated desires are perfect mirror images, they are unable to realise this lifeless, inculcated vision of contentment.
In contrast with the unimaginative couple, Giovanni is fiercely determined to seize life and love in their 'natural' forms, regardless of social norms. His openness and tenderness leave him exceptionally vulnerable, and the total disorder he lives in is the reservoir for the entropy of his inner suffering, a poisonous shell against the threat of cultural approbation.