The novel’s effect is derived in part from characters who, with few exceptions, are unsympathetic. They are also notable for their political and national standpoints, which obtrude at each turn. Although they are not archetypal and indeed seem to have few original ideas of their own, their attitudes and bearing are broadly evocative of colonial government in its most direct manifestations. Ellis, the most insular and overtly prejudiced of the British men, is tolerated and accepted by his compatriots. In varying or lesser degrees, the others also hold themselves above and apart from the natives; Macgregor is perhaps more resigned and philosophical than the rest in his outlook. Verrall, on the other hand, has little respect for any man who is not a skilled polo player or a ranking cavalry officer; his undisguised contempt for Asian troops once had brought him an official reprimand from his British superiors. The imperial officials seem to have little to do. While Verrall, during his appearances, occupies himself with horsemanship and romance, and Macgregor for some time follows an exercise regimen, during quiet periods the others move from club to home at a languid pace; attended by servants, they drink whiskey and bemoan the Empire’s fate.
The direct means of political control used by the British officials contrast with the cunning, oblique methods preferred by the natives. Dr. Veraswami, whose medical credentials at one point are called into question,...
(The entire section is 535 words.)