Though in many ways a minor character, Richie Deniston is central to the novel’s structure and meaning. His personality has been formed by both his father and his mother, and, though he understands the reasons for their separation, he still considers that they should not have been divorced since it is clear to him that Sir Gulliver and Helen remain attached and attracted to each other. Richie is a mediating element in the novel. Civilized, witty, educated, he can be contemplative as well as playful, and he seems comfortable with one foot in each world. Richie understands and accepts the moral forces that direct his father’s activities; in like manner, Richie comprehends and sympathizes with the pleasure principle that in the main guides his mother’s actions.
Only twenty-three, and when the novel opens in his first year at Cambridge, Richie has already spent three years involved in a barbaric war and has experienced not only the death of soldiers around him but also imprisonment and escape. As an antidote to war, Richie seeks the niceties of civilization—luxuries, comfort, good company, exquisite food and drink.
Barbary, on the other hand, is an anarchist, apparently opposing all authority, used to hiding bombs and derailing trains. While Richie was in the army, Barbary, three years younger, was growing up in occupied France, hanging out with the maquis, accepting, as if by osmosis, values common to those who, deprived of their...
(The entire section is 577 words.)