J. W. Denham, for all of his voiced concerns over the lack of moral responsibility and commitment he sees in the world, is not a likable or sympathetic character. It is not what he does that makes him so unlikable; it is what he does not do. Given numerous chances to help others out of their dilemmas, however trivial or ridiculous those troubles might seem, Denham either delegates responsibility to someone else or gives people money, along with lectures on the right thing to do. While worrying about the moral mess England is in, railing against its social injustices, and lamenting its downfall, Denham himself takes little risk in becoming involved. A confirmed bachelor and professional expatriate, Denham criticizes and worries from afar, both physically and emotionally. He does not like what he sees in the people around him, yet he will not do anything to change things.
With each character Denham meets in the course of his short stay in England, the reader sees an example of what he loathes. His father, Bert, is a retired printer, who spends his days in front of a snowy television screen watching double images of other people living. At night, in ritualistic fashion, he drinks at the pub with his friends. Denham, wanting to offer some sort of relief from the dulling, hypnotic forces of both television and alcohol, offers to take his father to Tokyo with him. Yet the offer is merely perfunctory, because he knows that his father will not accept.
(The entire section is 562 words.)