Two events not only reveal but also contribute to the central conflicts in the novel: the Southern Games (including the fifteen-mile Blue Riband cycling race) and Trinidad’s most important annual event, its colorful and hedonistic Carnival. These two events are to be held only weeks apart, and for the first time, Leon Seal turns his back on Carnival and single-mindedly prepares to win the race which will establish him as one of the country’s cycling stars.
Under his father’s guidance, he quits his job at the Pointe-a-Pierre oil refinery and avoids any activity which might strain a muscle or weaken his body. Accepting the popular mythology, he decides to abstain totally from any physical involvement with his devoted girlfriend, Sylvia, during the several months of his training. Leon’s carefully calculated regimen and his iron discipline are coolly and rationally directed toward the goals of heroic action and personal glory; Leon’s assumptions concerning the people close to him and the importance of his quest, however, fail to take into account the feelings and needs of Sylvia, who is in love with him but has little real interest in cycling. Intellectually she accepts her diminished position in Leon’s life, but emotionally she is hurt and confused by his treatment of her.
Leon further complicates the situation by sexually arousing Sylvia during the occasional visits he permits her, only to turn away from her abruptly with a show of...
(The entire section is 532 words.)