G. emerges through adolescence to the brink of manhood with uncertainties within himself and before him, but he has become an individual willing to seek himself beyond his insular environs beyond, in his case, the incomplete village of himself and into the broader world. He seeks some domain where he may feel comfortable and secure in being and showing his natural self. All along, he has given signs of his sensitivity and distinctiveness, but he has yet to find ease of mind about himself. As he is about to depart Barbados, he muses,When I reach Trinidad where no one knows me I may be able to strike identity with the other person. But it was never possible here. I am always feeling terrified of being known; not because they really know you, but simply because their claim to this knowledge is a concealed attempt to destroy you, . . . and thank God that’s why they can’t kill you.... They won’t know the you that’s hidden somewhere in the castle of your skin.
Much earlier, the reader gets a sense of the young G.’s wish to belong when he begins to notice distancing between himself and his boyhood friends. His educational path is one reason for this distancing; another is his ambitious mother’s flogging-enforced admonitions to him about “the corner and the gang.” Still, “Whatever was said or done, I knew what I wanted; and that was to be a boy among the boys.” For a time he was one of them, but the oncoming years show him in further exile to the extent that he believes that he has to hide himself within himself in order to preserve himself. Yet, he hopes for liberation.
Although he is in a state of uneasiness, G. is a keen observer. The people and the landscape become vividly alive through his reminiscences, which are charged with poetic aura by language and a revealing depiction of events. G.’s boyhood friends (Trumper, Boy Blue, and Bob), like most of the characters of the novel, are depicted largely through their own words and actions. They are shown in various activities: in school, having a momentous day at the beach, peeking in on a dance at the Creighton’s, being caught up in a labor-strike riot. The boys reflect on life as they see it and on the village as their unique community. On occasion, they become juvenile philosophers weighing, in their own contexts, concepts of personality, systems of morals, and questions of history and politics. Some of their accounts are spiced with humor,...
(The entire section is 993 words.)