Stan Parker, an ordinary, hardworking, twentieth century Australian farmer. He is the son of a blacksmith and an educated mother. After his parents’ deaths, Stan leaves the bush town where he grew up and moves to a piece of property he had inherited in an unsettled area near Sydney. He carves out a home and the beginning of a farm in the wilderness, then marries Amy, whom he meets at a dance in a nearby town. They settle into a humdrum life centered on domestic chores and rearing children. They live uneventfully for the next fifty or so years. Although Stan’s relationship with his wife is a close one, it is never demonstrative or charged with passion. Service in France during World War I marks the only time Stan leaves the farm for an extended period. This experience has little effect on his outward life, which continues in its set pattern. What makes Stan an intriguing character is his inner life, at which the narrative only hints. The author reveals early on that Stan is no interpreter of his feelings and aspirations. Later, the reader learns that Stan harbors a desire that had never been fulfilled, to express himself in substance or words. This would-be visionary and interpreter lives to be an old man. Shortly before he dies, he manages to say “I believe,” because it had at last become clear to him “that One, and no other figure, is the answer to all sums.”
Amy Fibbens Parker
Amy Fibbens Parker, a simple, industrious woman who on the surface appears to be an ideal wife and loving mother. Until she marries Stan, Amy lives on the fringes of conventional, small-town Australian society, with an aunt and uncle who have too many children and lack ambition. Once settled with Stan, she learns to love and respect her silent and thoroughly good husband. She takes pride in her household chores and in the role of wife and mother, even though her son eventually disappoints her because she cannot possess him. The desire to possess emerges as Amy’s flaw. She reveals a mean streak when her will is thwarted...
(The entire section is 846 words.)