Paul Ewbanks is the boss's son. Unlike his father and the other men he works with, he's university-educated, so he feels somewhat estranged from them. But then again, he feels estranged from the world in general. Like all the other men involved in putting up the marquee, he's one of life's misfits; but unlike them, his education has given him an advantage in life, albeit one he's unwilling or unable to exploit to the full.
Nevertheless, in helping out with the construction he's keen to make himself useful, to show his father what he can do. But Ewbanks senior doesn't have much regard for his son's abilities. He still retains something of a chip on his shoulder regarding his humble Northern English background, and so he can't fully understand or connect with his laid-back graduate son.
Yet in the process of putting up the marquee, Paul gains a certain level of self-respect. He also earns the admiration of his father, who offers to hand over the business to him. But he declines the offer, and the termination of the project sends Paul back out into a world where he has no place, no sense of purpose, and where his future is as uncertain as ever.