As the novel’s protagonist, twenty-six-year-old Toby is the most fully developed character. A World War II veteran who never left his navy training ship, Toby comes from a middle-class family which, it seems to him, was always fighting some injustice. In reaction against this upbringing, Toby initially wants nothing to do with the world’s problems. He proclaims, “I felt that what I really wanted was to enjoy what was left of the privileged life.... I really belonged to that bad old good life which my parents helped push down into a dishonoured grave.”
The other major characters appear as Toby divides his time between the black townships and the elaborate High House, with its tennis courts, swimming pools, and elaborate flower gardens. Gold-mining millionaire couple Hamish and Marion Alexander own the High House empire and enjoy hosting lavish parties. It is at one of these parties that Toby meets Cecil Rowe, a pretty twenty-nine-year-old divorcee, who later becomes his lover. Though she is a tender and enthusiastic lover, Cecil is an extremely shallow and self-centered person. She habitually neglects her little boy, and she desperately yearns for wealth and status.
At the heart of Toby’s black world are Anna Louw, Steven Sitole, and Sam Mofokenzazi. Like Cecil, Anna is a divorcee, but there the similarities end. Anna—disowned by her family for marrying an Indian and representing blacks and Indians in the courts—is sincere, while...
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