The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Although Beachmasters is not long (around two hundred pages), it introduces a wide range of characters and gives life to each one, whether major or minor.

Tommy Narota, the rebel leader, appears early in the narrative, then disappears for the most part until the end. Still, he remains a central if shadowy figure, his importance a consequence of the other characters’ references to him and of the events that unfold at his bidding. Gavi, who takes a more active part in the events, emerges as a memorable character through his behavior, responses, and interior thoughts, as well as through the way others respond to him.

Such is the indirect manner through which all the characters develop, even when they take the stage only briefly. Other narrative devices are also employed, including references to letters and newspaper clippings, descriptions of snapshots, and the discovery of a diary.

Of the colonial residents on the island, two stand out among a strikingly colorful gallery: District Agent Cordingley, a major personage, and Chloe of the Dancing Bears, a minor character. Cordingley, through his actions, speech, response to the rebellion, and treatment of the natives, is both a human being with more than his share of frailty and a caricature of the British colonial official. In addition to Cordingley’s own inadvertent revelation of his pomposity, failure, racism, and cowardliness, his wife’s and others’ reactions to his...

(The entire section is 470 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Tommy Narota

Tommy Narota, the leader of a rebellion on a tiny South Pacific island. the son of a native woman and a British planter, Narota, who is approximately fifty years old, is a gentle and naïve sort, not at all a typical revolutionary. His firmly held belief in the native people’s right to govern themselves on their own island inspires them to revolt, albeit unsuccessfully, against the European powers that have so long dominated them.

Gavi Salway

Gavi Salway, a teenage boy who learns at the rebellion’s start that he is a half-caste. He had been reared believing that he was the child of British planters. Possessing a keen sensitivity and awareness, Gavi sets out to grasp the significance of this discovery. During the short-lived rebellion, he makes his passage into manhood.

District Agent Cordingley

District Agent Cordingley, the island’s major British official. In appearance, speech, and actions, the middle-aged Cordingley is a near caricature of British colonial administrators. Typically, he responds to the rebellion in a bumbling, cowardly manner.


Bonser, a crude, bigoted, and exploitative Australian expatriate who works as a mechanic on the island. the rebellion to him simply provides a way to make money through gun smuggling.

Père Leyroud

Père Leyroud, an aging Roman Catholic priest who has spent...

(The entire section is 454 words.)