One way André Brink uses imagery to help the reader better grasp limitations and freedom for the characters in his novel is through his depiction of Ben’s house. You could think about the relatively safe, privileged imagery of Ben’s house, or space. This space can contain dinner parties and Susan’s affluent parents. Yet it doesn’t seem like it’s supposed to contain Stanley or the Black people that Ben is trying to help. Indeed, when Stanley shows up at Ben’s house during Christmas, Susan’s parents quickly leave.
In this sense, Ben’s house or space sets limits for both him and Black people. It limits Black people from visiting him and it restricts him from trying to get to the bottom of what happened to George.
Yet overall, Ben, as a white person, enjoys much more freedom than Emily, Stanley, or any Black person in the story. That freedom is reinforced when Ben gives himself a respite from George’s case and heads to the mountains with Melanie and her dad.
As a white person in South Africa, Ben has the resources to take a break from his troubles. Yet the people Ben is trying to help do not have such freedom. The impoverished, chaotic way in which Emily’s space is depicted seems to link to limitation. She can’t move somewhere else. She can’t take a break. She lacks the resources and the order.
Another way to think about limitation and freedom is with Melanie. Melanie can travel all over. Yet when she tries to return to South Africa, she’s denied entrance. This seems somewhat paradoxical. If Melanie was allowed to enter South Africa near the end of the story, she might have died like so many of the other characters. Yet because she was stripped of her citizenship, she was able to live. In a way, the limitation or restriction on Melanie is what allowed her to maintain her freedom, and perhaps her life.