Because he is the narrator of the novel, Neil Griffon shapes the reader’s perception of both him and the story. He is a self-made man who has succeeded despite his father, who has always been disapproving of and harsh to him. At seventeen, and after attending Eton, Neil struck out on his own. He became a successful dealer in antiques, and after that a financial consultant specializing in saving firms on the verge of bankruptcy. At thirty-four he is very much his own man and has learned to accept his father for what he is. Neil has, in short, matured to the point where he knows that the value of independence lies not in rebellion so much as in development, for which one is personally responsible. This puts him in a position to tutor Alessandro.
Alessandro has had an upbringing different from Neil’s. His father has spoiled him and accustomed him to accept the violent removal of anyone who stands in his way. Since he can get anything he wants, he has a false view of independence. He does not realize that he depends wholly on his father, not on himself. Neil changes this. Using the same patience and tact he brings to his business dealings and to his own father, he shows Alessandro how to believe in his own native abilities and to trust in his own judgment.
Neville Griffon and Enso Rivera function as antagonists in the novel. Both are blind to the needs of others, especially their sons, and this threatens their own achievements. Neville,...
(The entire section is 562 words.)