Priestley presents Gerald Croft as the epitome of all that's wrong with the English upper-classes. Superficially charming, but somewhat shallow and spoiled, he is the perfect representative of a social class that is decadent and morally degenerate. Though partly responsible for Eva Smith's suicide, he refuses to face up to the part he played in her tragic demise. He fails to see how anything he could've done could possibly have led to her taking her own life. So selfish and lacking in basic self-awareness is he that he simply cannot join the dots.
And yet Gerald holds out the prospect—which remains sadly unfulfilled—that he will eventually change, and in doing so accept his share of responsibility for what's happened. He admits that Eva's death is making him rather more upset than he thought it would. This explains why Inspector Goole isn't as hard on him as on the others; at least Gerald had some affection for Eva and made her happy for a time.
But when Gerald returns from his walk,...
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