The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

The Fletchers represent the two main elements in the white population of South Africa. She is Afrikaner, the daughter of a Boer pioneer who was a powerful man of considerable distinction; in marrying a British South African, she clearly believes that she has married beneath her station. Her crime against Joseph’s sister—the baby has been abandoned and perhaps even murdered—derived from family pride: her sense that she had to save her brother from public shame. Yet she is more quietly racist than her husband. His speeches to his two young guests are a wild mix of spurious racist doctrine, insane misinterpretations of history, and apocalyptic predictions about nuclear warfare and the end of civilization. In his paranoia, he raves about how dark-skinned people threaten the integrity of the white race and how “we” must stick together against “them.” The Fletchers remain together in their racist fortress, but they obviously do so only in spite of their corrosive resentment of each other.

If they have made a purgatory of their lives, Ignatius Louw is in a kind of hell. He has let himself be “saved” by his sister, who cared less for his happiness than for his reputation as a member of their family. He seems to be tormented by guilt for what he has permitted the Fletchers to do, and he says that he desired his black mistress as he had never desired anything in his life. It is also possible, however, that he committed miscegenation as an act of...

(The entire section is 490 words.)

A Dance in the Sun Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The narrator

The narrator, a university student who hitchhikes with his friend Frank from Lyndhurst (probably modeled on Kimberley) to Cape Town. Marooned in a small, isolated Karroo village, he finds lodging for the night at Fletcher’s home. A student of literature, he is humane in his attitude toward Africans, in part because of his fond memories of his family’s African servants; he cannot, however, entirely escape the attitudes that are inevitable in a member of a socially superior caste. Essentially innocent when they arrive at the Fletcher residence, he and Frank feel as if they have grown up after spending the night there.


Frank, the narrator’s friend, a medical student. A tall and rather awkward boy who dresses carelessly, he is shy and even timid, but he is a careful observer of people with a lively and almost clinical interest in human behavior. Described by the narrator as a clever boy in school, he is quite witty. Because he is not a racist, he makes fun of Fletcher’s racism and his grandiose ideas of “world order” with sardonic remarks that are too subtle for Fletcher to understand. In the novel’s plot, he is a more important character than the narrator because he is present in the confrontation between Fletcher and Ignatius Louw.


Fletcher, a British South African. Rather animal-like in bearing and movement, with a large head and bright, staring eyes, he seems younger than he...

(The entire section is 611 words.)