Blore-Smith is a careful portrait of a thoroughly undeveloped young man who lives only on the outer fringes of life and who desperately wants a taste of what he calls “the real thing.” He is certainly in need of transformation; he suffers from a speech impediment, a tendency to blush, and he is physically ungainly. Having inherited a comfortable income, he has no need to earn a living, and he passes much of the day aimlessly in cinemas and art galleries or reading in his room. When he does decide to act, he does so nervously and impulsively, paying two hundred pounds for a picture which is worth almost nothing. He has very little idea of what he wants to do with his life and finds it all very disappointing. “One doesn’t seem to get any of the things one expected,” he complains on his first meeting with Maltravers.
His initiation into the “real thing,” however, is painful. He gets the sexual experience he desires, but he remembers little about it, and his “involvement” with life acts almost entirely to his disadvantage, since he is a passive and easy victim of his worldly-wise companions. At the end of the novel, he has at least learned what he does not want, although there are no clear indications that he is any nearer to defining what he does want or to finding his way successfully through life. He has traded an unwanted innocence for an equally undesirable awakening into a futile and treacherous world.
(The entire section is 529 words.)