Arthur Leen Kletter is modelled after Diogenes the Cynic. He always believes the worst will happen, and he is seldom disappointed. He is unlike most people at his "Happy Valley" university, and struggles to show others that life is not always perfect.
Whether registering for classes, having to pay for classes, paying rent, trying to register for student aid, trying to study when everyone else is partying, or just trying to scrape enough food from day to day, Arthur has to deal with the gritty realities of life in college - as opposed to the glossy caricatures presented in the university brochures.
Torso is the athletic scholar, the stereotypical football jock. As a football player for the college team, he gets attention, money and academic leeway from the professors - all because he's great at throwing around a little ball. He thinks college life is just swell.
Arthur frequently singles Torso out for his scorn, since he is given privileges that very few others have. Like most people who live the good life, Torso doesn't understand why everyone resents him so much.
Grendel is the computer science major. He gets by with his brains and skills. He gives the readers the chance to see the techno-stress that college students frequently have to deal with.
He works hard for his grades and his scholarships, and finds himself sympathizing with Arthur, because he also has to jump through a lot of hoops to obtain things that are simply handed over to others by the administration.
Psychology student extrordinaire, Christina lends a unique intellectual female perspective on dating, college life, and dealing with the administration. She doesn't resent the inequities as much as others, making her more level-headed than some of her fellow students. Perhaps closer in spirit to Arthur than to Torso, she also catches frequent glimpses into the not-so-rosy aspects of college life.