Sergeant Dan Simmonds
Sergeant Dan Simmonds, a senior policeman of a small, inner-suburban two-man branch station in Australia. An overweight bully and lecher in his fifties, he possesses an uneasy self-esteem dependent on his self-image as a tough, authoritative cop, which he must constantly demonstrate. Anyone challenging his authority challenges his private concept. Consequently, he effectively strives to dominate the rookie constable, Ross, through humiliation and false paternalism. Simmonds is the pivotal figure of the action. His expectation of sexual favors from two sisters, Kate and Fiona, motivates him to execute their request to remove the belongings of the younger sister from her abusive husband’s home. The later frustration of those expectations, augmented by the husband’s refusal to accept Simmonds’ authority with its attendant self-image of manliness, prods Simmonds into vilifying one of the women, brutalizing the husband, and goading his young partner to violence that proves fatal.
Constable Neville Ross
Constable Neville Ross, a new policeman, twenty years old, just assigned to the branch station as his first duty out of training school and eager to prove his competence. His idealistic conception of his new role as a law enforcement officer is cunningly broken down by his superior, Simmonds, who denigrates his family background and religion and undermines his belief in proper police procedures. Continually taunted by Simmonds’ dominating authoritarianism, Ross becomes a reluctant participant in the action of the furniture removal but treats the fiercely resisting homeowner, Kenny, far more fairly than does his superior. When he finds himself the butt of demeaning insults to his competence by Kenny, as well as by Simmonds,...
(The entire section is 734 words.)