As Marshall has stated, many of the characters in The Chosen Place, the Timeless People serve as individuals and as symbols. Harriet represents the controlling WASP; Merle, the voice of Bournehills; and Lyle, the liberal who sells out. Marshall also tends to present her characters as opposites: She uses a “them and us” approach that furthers her political message. The Bournehills people are separated from the New Bristol people in geography (“the ridge divided Bourne Island into two unequal parts”), in color (black and “red”), and in attitude (the Bournehills people refuse to change their Carnival performance and cling to the past). There are even divisions among the people of New Bristol, where the elite from the Crown Beach Colony exploit the less fortunate.
The characters are also pitted against one another economically. The exploitative white colonial class is represented by Sir John Stokes, “dressed as if for a safari,” who callously observes at the cane factory, “It’s always a bit of a shock, don’t you know, to realize that the thing that sweetens your tea comes from all this muck.” The “little fellas,” Ferguson and Stinger, are in direct opposition to the wealthy. Between these groups is Lyle Hutson, whose house, a bizarre clash of traditional and modern taste, reflects his divided nature. He is committed to money, not to people. His womanizing also reflects his desire to exploit without responsibility. Erskine...
(The entire section is 430 words.)