The Last Goodman by Patience Swift Summary [Non-African Prose]
Read Online Non-African Prose: The Last Goodman by Patience JAMB UTME, NECO and WAEC Literature Comprehensive Chapter by Summary, Plot Account, Major Events and Significance, Themes and Characters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

A. J. Kazinski is the pseudonym of Anders Ronnow Klarlund and Jacob Weinreich. An instant bestseller in Denmark and now published in more than fifteen countries, The Last Good Man is their first collaboration. Both men live in Copenhagen with their families.

Compassion, kindness, goodness and integrity are values that the world still holds dear. For all times, men and women with compassionate hearts have demonstrated their goodness, whether they are praised for such acts or not. Many times, such extremely compassionate people are often misunderstood and crushed by society.

Many are the virtues that are esteemed in the world, virtues such as kindness, compassion and goodness are held in high regards in almost every society in the universe. Acts of kindness should be celebrated and applauded but this is not usually the case in many societies, where a selfish orientation to life is the order of the day.

Kind people are sometimes ignored and their kind acts go unnoticed. Sam is a goos man but many find it hard to comprehend him. He represents many goodhearted people in the world whose acts of love and compassion are ignored and unreciprocated. His acts of love and compassion towards man and nature are misjudged, undervalued and "unrewarded".

PLOT ACCOUNT

The Last Good Man begins with the reader being given an insight into the opinions of Sam over the drowning of a tourist at the beach and how he thinks the man could be rescued. His thoughts are not values and he soon walks away from the scene.

On his way home, he sees a boy who is sad because his bicycle is not functioning well. Sam helps the boy to repair his bicycle. The boy rides off without thanking Sam and Sam is not offended. At home, Sam unpacks the items that he bought at the local grocery and he goes outside to varnish the new cladding.  Isobel comes into the village to see to her mother's funeral arrangements.

She sees the crowd at the beach and she waits to see what is happening there. She discovers that a tourist has just drowned while trying to reach his children. She walks away towards the hotel. She scans the little shops and cafes along the seafront for the bookshop where she worked when she was fifteen years old. When she asks a young man if the last shop, which is now a pub or liquor store, used to be a bookshop, he rudely asks her how she could care about a bookshop when a touristjust lost his life. She checks into the hotel. Sam, on the other hand, wakes up to find the black cat calling from outside his bedroom window.

He opens the window and lets it in. He prepare porridge and he shares his meal with the black cat. Isobel wakes up in her hotel room and goes to her mother's apartment. There, she sits on the Victorian porch and recalls the love story of Abelard and Heloise.

Sam goes to the beach. He examines the pool of water and he tells the crabs in there to remain at their location until he comes for them the next day.

He notices a shape lying forty to fifty feet ahead of him, in the shallows. He soon discovers that the shape is that of a young girl, who is lying lifeless. He brings her out of the water and makes attempts at reviving her. She comes alive and he leads her to his house.

The becomes his helper, companion and friend. She enjoys his company and he enjoys hers. He feeds her and provides her with a sandal and a cot. Isobel encounters Sam and the girl on their way back from the village, in search of the girl's parents or anyone who might have been searching for the girl. Isobel assumers that the girl is Sam's granddaughter.

She notices that the girl keeps staring at her.  Marion, Isobel's old school friend, pays Isobel a visit at her mother's house. Isobel excuses herself to get some milk from the supermarket. At the supermarket, she again sees Sam and the girl.

There, Sam talks to the cash machine and tells it that it has made a mistake. He continues to admonish the machine to admit that it counted two bottles of milk instead of one. Susan, the cashier, calls Sam a bloody village nutter. On their way from the supermarket, Isobel runs after Sam and the girl. She questions him about the happenings at the beach the previous day but Sam does not give her a response. Marion invites Isobel for supper at her house, which is opposite Isobel's mother's house. She goes for the dinner and gets herself drunk Michael, Marion's husband, tells her about Sam and Sam's mother. Sam and the girl go to fish at the beach. Isobel walks up to them and tells Sam that she related well with his mother when she was alive.

Sam is pleased with the good report that Isobel brings about his mother's hospitality. Isobel requests that she be allowed to visit Sam's apartment and her request is granted. She then takes a picture of Sam and the girl with her disposable camera.  Isobel visits Sam that evening. She asks Sam about the girl and he explains how he found her at the beach.

She tells Sam that the girl must belong to somebody and that Sam ought to notify the police but Sam says that the police have enough on their hands and that they should not be bothered with such a matter. Isobel leaves and Sam and the girl eat runner beans and potatoes from the garden for dinner.  Sam goes again to the beach to fish. Isobel calls on him and she faints from the cold. He carries her home and makes her have some tea.

When he asks her what she was doing at the beach at night, she tells him that she was watching him. Isobel sleeps on Sam's bed and pleads with him not to leave her. He stays with her and they make love.  Isobel leaves with the girl to but her some clothes, on Sam's request. Isobel recalls the book that she has longed to write.

She asks Marion to look after the girl for her while she runs to the house to write the story that she has always wanted to write. She later hears knocks on her door. She finds a policewoman with Marion and the girl and they soon drive to Sam's house. Meanwhile, Sam is on his way back from the farm where he has worked energetically and happily.

When the police car gets to Sam's house. The girl opens the door and runs towards Sam. He picks her up and shields her. Out of fury, he gets an old rusted shotgun that he once found on the beach. He threatens a policeman with it. Isobel pleads with a policeman and tries to explain some things to him but he does not understand her.

More policemen arrive at the house with guns. Isobel sneaks to the lighthouse. Sam attempts to get the policemen to stop their noise and he is shot several times. The girl, high up in the sky prophesies that the police will go to the lighthouse to look for Isobel and that when they find her, she willjump and land on the rocks.

SETTING

The Last Good Man is set in a village. The narrative presents a world of fishes, seagulls, crabs, beaches, headland, hills, boats, fishermen and tourists. Sam's world is one that is radiant and filled with nature's blessings - fishes, seals, seagulls, crabs, berries and tomatoes. Many events take place in Sam's house, the hotel, lsobel's mother's house and the beach. As regards the temporal setting, the narrator drops hints that the events of the narrative took place in the twentieth century. Sam refers to the '60's and 70's' (p.27) as the period of his youth, when he, like others of his age group, left the village to get jobs on construction sites. Sam also refers to the fact that he could not see helicopters who would have been searching the beach if there had been any news of a missing girl. This suggests that the events took place in a civilised age.

MAJOR EVENTS AND SIGNIFICANCE

A TOURIST DIES AT THE BEACH

A. A crowd of villagers and tourists, about sixty to seventy of them, are gathered at the beach watching a drowning man. Sam, whose all stature makes him distinct, tries to say some things about the reality of the dying man, but everyone sees him as an incoherent fellow and one that is not quite sure of what he is saying.

B. The couple standing close to Sam frown at him because they cannot make sense of what he is saying. They feel that his words are inappropriate. Standing close to the couple is Isobel, holding the handle of a suitcase. She turns her gaze from the ea and looks in  Sam's direction.

C. The dying man at the bay is being watched by the crowd. Everyone tries to give his or  her opinion on the chances that the dying man would make it to the shore alive. They point at him and rehash their belief that the man can live through the experience. While some just talk, some others say their prayers out loud in supplication for the man's protection.

D. Sam thinks that he is wrong to have voiced his thoughts aloud. He tells himself to go on quietly. He knows that a crowd such as the one that has gathered around the beach is not willing to be truthful.

E. The tourist had been swept out by the rip tide as he was trying to reach his two children. The tourist had come to the village with his wife and children. Sam knows that the man is going to die and that he will not make it out of the waters alive. Sam has been caught in a rip before and he knows that the rips are not dangerous if they are shown respect. According to Sam, one caught in a rip ought to swim gently and submit to the movements of the tides, instead of battling them as the dying tourist did.

F. Sam walks away from the scene. He keeps looking ahead as he keeps looking quietly into the distance. As he walks, his hands cradle the handles of the carrier bags that hold the provisions that he just got from the grocery. On his way, Sam notices a boy sitting on his bicycle; the boy look tired and sad. Sam discovers that the chain of the boy's bike is clattering badly against the gearing cogs of the bike. Sam stops to help the boy fix the bicycle. The boy rides his bicycle away, without showing any form of gratitude to Sam for fixing his bicycle. Sam continues his journey home. At the beach, the tourist drowns just as sam predicted.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The fact that no one seems to listen to Sam or care to make sense of what he is saying underscores Sam's reputation in the society and the view that most people hold about him. Sam has been caught in a rip before and it can be said that he is experienced on such matters but no one cares to listen to him and his words go unacknowledged and unvalued.

B. The episode highlights the fact that man is sometimes powerless against nature. Sam relates the fact that two strong currents, meeting each other in a powerful sea can create a rip and that the energy that such a rip creates "can drive anything on its path out into the deeper water", a place where the pounding waves will pound and pound. The dying and all who tried to rescue him were not smart enough to stop nature on its angry course. Sam advises that no one should attempt to fight the rips.

C. Sam helps the boy to fix his bicycle, without the boy asking for Sam's help. Sam does not mind that the boy does not show gratitude for what he helped him do. This affirms that Sam is a good man. Sam's ability to fix the bicycle without much ado attests to his vast knowledge on many affairs of life.

D. The sad and mournful beginning of the novel casts a dark shade on the enitre narrative and foretells the tragic ending of the story. The report of the death of the tourist sets off many other such reports.

B. ISOBEL WATCHES THE SCENE AT THE BEACH 

A. Isobel had come into the village in a taxi some fifteen minutes earlier. She left the city soon after dawn and had been on the train for hours. She is on her way to the hotel but she stops at the beach to see why the crowd has gathered. Standing on the seafront, Isobel watches the man as he dies. Isobel tries to make out the members of the man's family from the ugly noise from those that stand close to her.

B. The happenings around Isobel suddenly make her feel tired, she sits on the handle of her suitcase. Isobel has seen people dying before. The familiarity of the scene — the emotions of fear, shock and bewilderment are what exhaust her strength. The noise around Isobel increases as more people cry while others talk There is also the noise of the surf and that of the ambulance.

C. Meanwhile, Sam continues to walk to his house. As he reaches the top of the hill, he sets his bags down beside one of the stone seat supports and sits down. Sam is conscious of the fact that he is still breathing through his nostrils. Sam worries about his physical decline. He fears that a time will come when he will have to breathe through his mouth whenever he climbs the hill. From his position, Sam takes a look at the village - the roofs and the streets. He sees the hotel, which is usually occupied by the holidaymakers, especially in August.

D. Sam remembers that the coast path has always had a seat. He remembers how he used to tread the coast path when he was a young schoolboy. He recalls his mother's tea and a piece of bread which were always waiting for him, after school. Sam sights a peregrine falcon and he rings out a warning to the beetles and mice who might be wandering around.

E. Sam gets up from his seat and heads for his home. He moves away from the road into the headland. He takes the less difficult path home in order to get home while the sun still shone brightly, because he still has plans of varnishing "the wood of the new cladding that he had applied to the north side of his house" (p. 9).

SIGNIFICANCE 

A. This part of the narration introduces Isobel into the narrative. She is presented as a concerned citizen. It also highlights Isobel's love for novels and highlights the number of hours that Isobel spent on novels during her teenage years. This points to Isobel as one who would rather cling to the world of the imaginary than the real world.

B. Sam cares for animals. He warns the beetles and mice that the peregrine falcon, which can destroy them is around. This scene shows Sam as a kind and compassionate person. , It also shows that Sam does notjust commune with himself but also with animals. It further points out Sam's weird nature and his different way of reasoning. The reader also has an insight into Sam's past. His mother comes out as a kind and selfless woman who usually had bread and tea waiting for him after school hours and a good embodiment  of a responsible woman. He remembers how she usually smiled to hide her exhaustion "from another day cleaning for houses in the village" (p. 8).

C. ISOBEL CHECKS INTO THE HOTEL  

A. The crowd at the beach continue to sob as they learn that the lifeguards were not able  to save the tourist. The man beside Isobel cries the more, as his wife tries to comfort him by patting him on the shoulder. Isobel stands up to leave the scene. As she walks down  to the hotel, she notices the little shops and cafes that are along the seafront road.  Isobel finds it hard to identify the shops and cafes; she wonders if the little bookshop, where she had spent most of her teenage years, was still intact and in its old site as "the last shop in the row" (p. 11).

B. She finds out that another shop might be occupying the place where the bookshop had once been. She walks inside the shop, which was once her treasured bookshop, she realises that the shop is now an off-licence (liquor) shop. She asks the young man that she meets at the doonNay to the shop if the shop had once been a bookshop. The man, amazed at her question amidst the Iamentation at the beach, some blocks away, responds by asking her if she were so heartless as to want to buy a book, considering the death of "some poor bloke" (p. 11) who had just drowned.

C. Isobel has once worked at the bookshop when she was about 15 years old. The owner of the bookshop was an old man, for whom she worked every Saturday. While she worked there, she read voraciously, to the astonishment of the old man. The books she read inspired her and the intensity of feelings that they created in her has remained with her over the years. As Isobel continues her walk to the hotel, she thinks of Heloise, whom she first read about at the bookshop.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The episode highlights the fact that Isobel loves to read. It also relates the impact of the knowledge gleaned from the books on her.

B. The death of the tourist is a communal tragedy, which has a debilitating effect on everyone. Apart from the fact that it reflects the idea that some communities in England are still rustic and very communal in outlook, it also foregrounds the mortality of man and the brevity of life.

D. SAM GETS HOME AND STARTS TO VARNISH THE NEW CLADDING

A. The house in which Sam lives was built by his great-grandfather in the late nineteenth century. Sam's great-grandfather was an entrepreneurial man "who had carried stone and mortar and lead and copper pipes and glass over the brow of the headland from the village" in order to build a house on the cliffs, with oil-burning lights, to warn ships off the reefs. He was rewarded with the ownership of the land on which the house was built.

B. Sam, on getting to the house sets his bags down, he sees that the sky is streaked towards the west "with thin, wispy clouds that trailed off like fingers towards the horizon" (p. 14), he addresses the sky and the wall. The knowledge of the impending rainfall makes Sam hurry into the house to get set to varnish the wood so that it can get dried befall nightfall.

C. Sam has been living alone since the death of his mother, about ten years earlier. Sam's mother died as a result of a stroke that she suffered. She died before the paramedic team could reach her to help her. Since her death, Sam has barely changed the outlook of the house, but for the fridge that he brought in after her death. Sam lives on what he produces on his farm. The other items that he needs, such as milk, butter, cheese, soap and some toilet paper are bought from the grocery.

D. Sam's vegetable garden meets his needs for vegetables while his meat is obtained from two of the local farmers, for whom Sam works. Sam also grows tomatoes and cucumbers.

As Sam puts the items that he ha sjust bought into the fridge. He tells the fridge that it would be turned back up the following week as its consumption of gas would have reduced. Sam goes into his room to change into his work overalls as he prepares to start varnishing the new cladding.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. This episode attests to the fact that not only is Sam a good man, his forebears were good, responsible and hardworking people, worthy of emulation. Sam's great— grandfather did not stop at building the light house; he usually ensured that the top of the house was lighted every night to serve as a guide to the village's fishing fleet.

B. Sam talks to the sky and the wall. His only companions at his house are inanimate things. This shows his loneliness. It is also obvious that Sam is a very hardworking and industrious man, an introvert, whose lifestyle many people in the village do not understand.

E. ISOBEL REMINISCES

A. Isobel's room in the hotel is big enough to take a double bed in the centre, with a desk and a television. She also has a phone and a kettle in the room. The hotel was built in the 19205. From the hotel room, she can still see the crowd at the beach. She also sees the lifeboat at the beach.

B. Isobel remembers when she was fifteen years old and she was working at the bookshop. She recalls how she would walk over the big bay to swim. Then, she liked the feeling of swimming alone in the water, on early summer mornings before the place got crowded. Isobel also remembers that it has been ten years since she last came to the village. She was twenty-five then, and she had been home for only about three hours when she and her mother had already come to blows, staring at each other angrily.

C. Isobel had left the house then and headed for the bar at the hotel to have a drink She drank all evening and returned to the house to sleep at the Victorian glass porch outside the front of the house. Afterwards, she had breakfast with her mother and she left the village and has since then never returned until this visit.

D. Meanwhile, Sam has finished the varnishing. As usual, he addresses the wood as if he is talking to a human being and instructs it to "shrug off that easterly when it blows the rain down on you" (p. 19). Sam decides to go for a walk on the beach; he takes the stone steps that lead from a gap at the front of the house all the way to the beach. The stone steps had been laid by his grandfather and his father, before the war.

F. ISOBEL GOES TO HER MOTHERS APARTMENT

A. Isobel wakes up when it is still dark; she wakes up with the familiar feeling of being a bad person. She thinks about a patient that she had met in the ward at the hospital, who was recovering from a heart operation, who had told her that he woke up everyday with thrilled anticipation for what the day has to unfold. Each day for Isobel is a challenge at best. For lack of any constructive activity to engage in, Isobel dresses up and goes to her mother's house.

B. Isobel again recounts the story of Heloise and Abelard - how Abelard, a young theologian in Paris, fell in love with Heloise, his young pupil. Their relationship produced a child. While Heloise was banished to a nunnery, Abelard was castrated by Heloise's angry uncle. Although the lovers never net again, they communicated through letters. They both died and they were buried side by side. The narrator recommends that the reader reads Abelard and Heloise's extraordinary letters, "drenched in erotic longing" (p. 33).

C. Isobel had read Heloise and Aberlard's letters when she was fifteen years old. She used to read them when the old man that owned the bookshop slept. He woke up to find her reading the letters and he amazed her by reciting many of the letters from memory. Although she was so young at the time she read the letters, she knew then that "she would never meet a man as complete as Aberlard" (p. 34). As she sits at the front porch of her mother's apartment, she recites some parts of their letters.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. This episode reveals more about Isobel's personality. She is also an introvert, like Sam, an avid reader and someone who yearns for true, unfeigned love.

B. The romantic relationship between Abelard and Heloise, like the story of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, is tragic. It is a story about how a world full of immorality, selfishness and hatred, makes true and perfect love almost unattainable and unattractive.

G. SAM RECALLS HOW HE LOST HIS FATHER

A. Sam moves down the last concrete step from his house to the beach. He walks off to the great bay, hoping to check if the night's waves have not damaged the rowing boats. Of recent, Sam has been having nightmares. He feels that his mind is always burdened at night with the thoughts of his father.

B. Sam was four years old when he lost his father. Sam's father and his crew were trying to reach a fishing vessel whose engine had failed in a stormy weather. The crew had almost reached the fishing vessel when the huge waves rocked their own boat. Sam's father was thrown overboard by the enormous waves and he drowned soon afterwards.

C. As the news of Sam's father's death got to the village, Sam's mother left for the beach. At the beach, she wailed alone for hours. Sam would have gone to join her but he was prevented by some women from the village. Since the day Sam's father died, Bethany, his mother, never spoke to him about his father's death and he never saw her cry again.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Sam's nightmares highlight the fact that he misses his father. His recollections of his father introduces Sam's father to the reader. Implied in this account of the death of Sam's father, is that some of Sam's "weird" attitude to issues, events and situations might have been as a result of this tragic occurrence - the death of his father.

B. The episode attests to the fact that Sam‘s father was also a good man. He was the first to be woken up "when the lighthouse man hammered on the door of the house on his way to the village" (p. 36). He went through the streets to mobilise others to go to the rescue of the fishing vessel, an act of selflessness that eventually cost him his life. Through Sam's father, the writer talks about a verifiable irony of life, when bad things happen to good people.

H. SAM RESCUES A YOUNG GIRL AT THE BEACH

A. As Sam continues his walk towards the centre of the bay, he notices "a dark shap lying forty to fifty feet ahead of him in the shallows" (p. 38). Sam walks towards the creature and he discovers that the shape is that of a human being - a young girl. He soon realises that the young girl is almost lifeless. He lifts her out of the shallows and walks back to the beach. He lays her down and makes attempts to resuscitate her.

B. The little girl regains consciousness as Sam pumps her chest the fourth time. Her mouth opens and a trickle of sea water flows from it. Sam lifts her again and pats her back She spits out more water and her legs wriggle.

C. The girl sits up on the sand and smiles at Sam. Sam tried to question her and ask how she got to the beach but all the girl does is to smile at Sam. Sam decides that she needs some warmth. He tried to lift her up but the girl gets up on her own and tugs at Sam to get up too. They both walk towards Sam's house. As they pass the outcrop of the rock, the girl lets go of Sam's hands and goes ahead to peer into the deep cracks of the rock The girl begins to dance.

D. Sam does not distinguish between children and adults. To him, people of different ages and different sensibilities are all the same. To him, all are humans and they often appear to himm as "a whole, a human-ness which so often glanced across his own perception of the world" (p.42).

E. Sam recalls his own childhood, how he usually questioned his mother about the reasons for his age mates' misbehavior. At a time, "two boys from his class had thrown stones at a dog" (p.42) and "on another occasion, a gang of them broke into an empty house" (p.42). He sought answers from his mother, who would usually smile and try to lull him to sleep.

F. Sam wonders about the child. He asks the rocks for her origin. He asks them about her appearance at the beach, her family and whether their boat had sunk into the sea. He ponders on these issues, as the girl plays on the sand. She begins to dance. She motions for him to join in her dance. He simply obliges her.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Sam's encounter with the girl presents another occasion for the writer to present him as a good man who is affable, hospitable and responsible. Sam compares the girl to the seal that they had found the previous year. He remarks that the seal took some hours before it came around but the girl came around on time. To Sam, distinctions between the worlds of animals and humans are blurry.

B. This episode introduces another character into the narrative. The girl is soon to become Sam gentle companion and helper. It also reveals Sam as naive and an embodiment of childlike innocence.

I. ISOBEL READS ABOUT THE TOURIST DEATH

A. Isobel reads about the tourist's death in the local newspaper and she wonders what the dead man could have done differently to avoid his death. She imagines all his actions from when he woke to when he breathed his last. Isobel concludes that his actions "all led meaninglessly to an absurd conclusion" (p.44). She imagines Abelard setting the occurrence "as one of his metaphysical debates at the pulpit in Paris" (p.44).

B. She recalls one of his debates titled Sic et Non meaning Yes and No, a debate that presented a range of conflicting evidences that covered diverse theological issues. Isobel confirms the impact of Abelard's writings on her. She affirms that she is a 'Yes and No' person. She notes that this ambivalence about life alienates people.

C. Isobel wonders why she seems so different from other people. She realises that certainties that usually come to others naturally are alien to her. She recalls how her mother used to chastise her for her indecisiveness. Isobel as an adult is still hesitant; she is doubtful of expressing her views. Many people find Isobel 'unusual' and difficult to understand. The narrator, however, insists that Isobel is a kind and compassionate person. The narrator also proclaims emphatically that Isobel is a good person.

D. Randomness defines Isobel's life. She does things by chance and she does them 'illogically'. She left the village in a casual manner. The narrator explains that Isobel was "half way through her A-Ievel course at the local school when for no particular reason she took off with a boy" (p.45) that she hardly knew. She had been seeing the boy at "nighttime down by the lighthouse on the headland" (p. 45). What attracted her to him was the fact that the boy lisped slightly whenever he said th. Also, she liked the way he talked about getting a boat and sailing away from the village forever. She eventually left the village with him. Twenty years later, she still lives in the house that they had moved into when they got to the city, although the boy had left.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. What Isobel read about when she was fifteen is still very fresh in her memory. What she read has impacted her world so much that she relates most occurrences to what Abelard or Heloise would have done and this probably explains why she found it relatively easy to elope with a boy to the city at a very young age.

J. SAM AND THE GIRL IN HIS HOUSE

A. At Sam's apartment, he prepares porridge for the girl. As the girl eats, Sam explains the events at the beach to the kitchen. Sam tries to ask the girl some questions but she just makes a signal to Sam that she wants more of the porridge. Sam tells the girl that he does not mind the fact she does not talk He tells her that the house does not also talk, so also the cat. He declares to her that "talks's not so special" (p.47). Sam says that the seagulls can have the remnant of his breakfast. The girl goes ahead to give the remnant of the food to the seagulls.

B. Sam decides that the girl needs some rest. He leads her to his mother's cot. While the girl sleeps, Sam look through his mother's collection of old clothes. He finds a pair of child sandals; he recollects that he must have worn the sandals some fifty years ago. Sam carefully sews up one of the buckles of the sandal that is loose. Sam soon leaves to work in the garden. The girl Iater joins him at the garden. She is wearing Sam's old brown sandals. She helps Sam to gather the discarded weeds into a neat pile.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Sam is again depicted as a very kind person. It seems that kindness and compassion are instinctive to Sam. He anticipates the girl's needs and makes adequate provisions for them.  B  When Sam talks about how long ago he has last worn the sandals, about fifty years earlier, the reader has an idea about his age, that he is between 50 - 60 years of age.

K. ISOBELS PAST IS REVEALED

A. Isobel's mind is filled with the thoughts of the man who died at the beach the previous day. She decides to take a stroll around the village to shake off the thoughts. She packs a swimming costume, in case she is tempted to swim at the beach. As she walks, she sees the path that leads to the Lovers Lane. She recalls that the Lovers Lane is where she had spent her last night in the village, before she left with her "ne'er do well"(p. 51). She remembers that the first time she made love was when she was sixteen years old, "down at the end of the path beside the lighthouse" (p. 52). At present, she makes love "with whoever it was out of kindness rather than passion" (p. 52) because she feels that she owes it to them.

B. She often felt concerned about what her mother's reaction would be, if she knew of her activities. Sometimes in the past, she felt her mother's disapproval "from hundreds of miles away" (p. 52). She imagined her mother reprimanding her for not "settling down" (p. 52). To escape these feelings of guilt and remorse, she would usually read psychology books like Who am I now and It's time for me whenever she heard the echoes of her mother's rebuke in her ears to assert her rights to self-definition and self-determination.

C. Isobel had spoken to a kind older doctor at the hospital where she worked the previous week Both Isobel and the doctor were on night duty and the doctor had just signed the time of death sheet for a young man who had had an accident. The doctor had voiced his dissatisfaction with the whole situation. When quizzed about her life, Isobel tells the older doctor of her departure from the village and how she had coped with life since then. She told him about her adventures and the humanitarian services that she offers to people. She also told him about her plans to write a book about "love, certainty, longing, regret, survival" (p. 54).

D. Isobel had also told the doctor about her mother. He advised her to go and pay her mother a visit while she was still alive. Isobel received the news of her mother's death three days after the discussion that she had with the doctor. Isobel looks up from her position on the beach and she sees Sam and the girl. She perceives that the girl is Sam's grandchild. She recognises Sam as the man that made the curious comments at the beach the previous day.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The discussion between Isobel and the doctor further explains Isobel's personality; it gives an insight into her past and the reasons why she does things as she does them. These is also the introduction of another character, the older doctor, to whom she tells the story of her life - her past and present and her future plans.

B. Isobel assumes that the girl is Sam's granddaughter. This gives the reader an idea about the huge age difference between Sam and the girl.

L. ISOBEL SEES SAM WHEN HE TAKES THE GIRL TO THE VILLAGE TO LOOK FOR HER PEOPLE

A. Sam goes with the girl into the village with the hope of finding her family. As they go from Sam's house to the village, he tells her to let him know when she sees her mother.

They walk hand in hand slowly to the village. When they get to the beach, Sam leaves her for some minutes to buy the newspaper to see if the papers have any news about a missing girl. Sam goes through the newspapers and he discovers that the papers say nothing about the missing girl. Sam thinks about going to ask people if they know the girl with him but he decides against that because "it was too long now" (p. 57) that he had interacted closely with people in the village.

B. Sam asks the beach the next course of action to take. The girl gets up and attempts to pull Sam up too. Sam tells the bench that they are sitting on that the young girl is not strong enough to pull him off the bench. A short man comes to ask Sam about his new companion. He tells Sam that he did not know that he had relatives. Sam says a quiet 'No' and he walks away with the girl.

C. Isobel lies on the beach for several hours. Then she gets up and goes to swim. She remembers Sam's mother, who used to clean for her mother when she was at school. She recollects that the woman once invited her for tea at her cottage. Isobel had visited her many times afterwards. Isobel encouraged Sam's mother to tell her tales of the village from her youth. Isobel attempted to repay her by bringing her a book from the bookstore but Sam's mother refused it because she probably thought that she would have to give a gift in return. She remembers a quote from what Abelard wrote to Heloise about her body. Isobel sometimes imagines that she could picture "Abelard himself, severe and merciful in his distant dignity" (p. 61). She sees Sam and the girl as they pass by the beach.

D. Sam and the girl go back home. Sam describes the events of the morning to the house. To Sam, "everything works, we all work together, garden works, house works, Sam works. Everything just right" (p. 62). Sam does not like surprises. Sam thinks that it is probably because he had not planned well that things have turned out the way that they have. The trip to the village makes him feel exposed. He sees the image of Sam walking into the village with the girl and he does not like that image. "Now he saw himself from afar as others might see him and he did not like it." (p. 62).

E. The girl's arrival upsets the balance that had existed previously in Sam's life. Her appearance has brought about a change in his world. He compares her appearance with that of the cat, who just needed shelter and food. Sam fears the breaking of the silence that his life had been experiencing with the coming of the girl.

F. The girl is also depicted as a responsible person who is mature for her age. She works on Sam's fishing line. She works on the knots on the line and untangles the parts that need to be untied. She hands the repaired fishing line back to Sam. They both go back into the kitchen.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The fact that he takes the girl back to the village to search for her parents shows that Sam does not keep the girl with him unlawfully. The girl not only becomes Sam's companion, but also his helper. She helps him to repair his fishing line without being asked to do so and Sam is grateful.

B. Sam relates how his life had been before the girl's sudden appearance. He had lost consciousness of himself over the years but now he is beginning to regain that consciousness of who he was with the coming of the girl. Sam considers the impact of the girl's appearance on his life. She cayses a disequilibrium in his life. Sam had for a long time been unconscious of how he appears to people. Sam's value and worth existed only in relation to the things about him with which he interacted.

C. The last person that he had cared for had been his mother before she died. Sam stopped working on construction sites in order to better take care of her. After the death of his mother, ten years earlier, Sam "disappeared from himself and was absorbed into the surroundings and the elements of his life" (p. 63).

M. ISOBEL SUMMONS COURAGE TO GO THROUGH HER LATE MOTHERS BELONGINGS 

A. Isobel sees the postcards that she had recently sent to her mother on the mantelpiece. The reader also learns that lsobel's mother had died from cancer. Isobel was told that her mother refused to give the permission for Isobel to be contacted during the three weeks of her illness, which culminated in her death. 

B. Isobel sees her parents' wedding picture. She remembers her parents' unhappy marriage. She had recalled the words of Heloise during the dying period of her parents' marriage: "only love given freely, rather than the constriction of the marriage tie, is of significance to an ideal relationship" (p. 67).  

C. Isobel recalls her parents' clashes over trivial matters and she wonders how they could have lived such a life of unhappiness. While growing up, her father had turned her into his confidant. He would usually ask her questions about her mother.

D. Isobel's father had threatened to leave the village if Isobel left. When Isobel eventually left the village, he also did the same. He sent letters to Isobel requesting for a meeting with her but Isobel was uncharacteristically resolute and had refused to see him. He later informed her of his decision to travel to Australia to live with his sister and her family. He died two years after. Isobel's aunt, after the death of Isobel's father, accused Isobel and her mother of breaking her father's heart. She claimed that both the mother and the daughter were selfish and cruel.  

E. Isobel discovers that nothing much has changed in the house since she left. She goes from one place to the other and discovers that everything is in order, tidy and neatly arranged.  

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Sam teaches the girl many things. Sam is the teacher and the girl is his eager student. He teaches her how to eat crab amongst other things.  

B. The girl also begins to fit into his lifestyle. He no longer sees her as one that is causing a disequilibrium to his mental and physical balance. 

C. The reader sees Sam as a kind and gentle man, greatly misunderstood by those around him, especially the villagers.

N. MARION VISITS ISOBEL

A. Isobel checks out of the hotel at ten o'clock in the morning. She realises that it makes sense to move into her mother's apartment while she is still in the village. She plans to work on the book that she wants to write while at her mother's house, in the dining room, she ponders on Heloise's words, in her first letter to Abelard, which shows the deep extent of her love for him.

B. Marion knocks on the door. Isobel is startled but she still goes ahead to open the door. Marion was Isabel's old school friend. Marion is the "dreamy teenager who had accompanied Isobel on some illicit moonlight walks to the lighthouse with the boys". Isobel and Marion have not spoken in fifteen years. Marion tells Isabel that her house is opposite Isabel's mother's house. Marion tells Isobel about how she persuaded Isobel's mother to contact Isobel but Isobel's mother was adamant. Marion tells Isobel that she looked out for Isobel's mother in her absence. She also tells Isobel that her mother was always proud of her. Isobel excuses herself to rush to the supermarket to get some milk, with which to make coffee for Marion. 

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The episode features the introduction of another character into the narrative, Marion. Marion tells Isobel about her mother, to give the reader another witness' opinion about lsobel's mother.  

B. It is significant that Marion tells Isobel that her late mother was proud of her, a sentiment that lsobel's mother never relayed to her daughter personally. The import of this information is that from the perspective of the reader, the breakdown in the relationship between Isobel and her mother was because of an arrogant streak displayed by both mother and daughter, which made them incorrigible and unable to forget the past and forgive each other's misdeeds. 

O. SAM AND ISOBEL MEET AT THE SUPERMARKET

A. Sam also needs more bread and milk; he heads for the supermarket with the girl. On their waay to the place, Sam teaches the girl about birds. As they get to the road that leads to the village, "Sam had put out of his mind any plans to find the girl's parents, and for him this was just another shopping trip" (p. 82). At the supermarket, Sam buys some bread and milk and a pair of pink shoes for the girl.  

B. At the counter where Sam is to pay for the goods, he tells the woman at the cash machine that the amount she is requesting for the goods is wrong. He talks to the cash machine. He tells it that he heard it counting two bottles of milk instead of one. Sam continues to smile patiently at the machine. An older woman, the supervisor, comes to clear up the scene. She discovers that there was a mistake. She apologizes to Sam. Sam tells the girl that the machine forgot how to add up.

C. As Isobel gets to the cashier to pay for her pint of milk, she remarks to the cashier that Sam is a 'bit of a character' (p. 84). The cashier calls Sam a 'bloody nutter' (p. 85) and a 'bloody weirdo' (p. 85). The cashier wonders who it was that entrusted a kid to Sam's care.

D. The girl continues to stare at Isobel as she leaves the supermarket with Sam. Isobel runs after them. She introduces herself to Sam and tells him that she saw him at the beach the previous day. She questions him about the meaning of his utterances at the beach. However, Sam leaves without giving her an answer. 

SIGNIFICANCE.

A. Again, Sam is depicted as an extremely kind-hearted person. He treats the girl like his own child. He does not mind feeding and clothing her. Sam refuses to take offence at the supermarket. He patiently maintains that the cash machine was wrong. He is gentle as he makes his point about the error on the receipt shown to the cashier. He is not aggressive and eventually he is vindicated when the error is rectified.

P. MARION INVITES ISOBEL TO SUPPER

A. Back at Isobel's mother's house, Isobel plays the hostess to Marion. Marion tells her that she is married to Michael, a loval fisherman and that she has three children. She also informs Isobel that she has been living opposite Isobel's mother's house for nine years. Marion invites Isobel to supper that day and Isobel accepts her invitation.

B. At Michael and Marion's place, Isobel takes some wine and she is a little drunk Marion tlks about how sad it is that Isobel's mother ended her days the way she did. She comments on how Isobel's mother kept her apartment so clean and how she did all her shopping herself. As Marion goes on talking about Isobel's mother, Isobel think of "Heloise, abbess of Paraclete, re-reading Abelard's letters alone in her room" (p.88). 

C. Isobel asl6 the couple about Sam. She tells them about the encounter at the supermarket earlier in the day. Michael tells Isobel that Sam lives in a little cottage over on the other side of the headland. He also tells her that he returned to the village to look after his mother when she was ill and he has still remained in the village since she died. He also tells Isobel that Sam's father was killed on the Iifeboats when he was still very young. When asked about the girl, Marion's husband says that he doubt if Sam has any relatives.

D. Marion thinks it is wrong for a little girl to live with Sam, because to her, Sam is still a bogeyman, a name that they had given him when they were much younger. In her drunken state, Isobel imagines telling Marion that she is going to sleep with Michael, her husband, and Marion nodding absently. Dinner is over and Isobel returns to her mother's apartment. 

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The invitation extended to Isobel by Marion and Michael enables the writer to present to the reader, the parochial sentiments about Sam that are prevalent in the village. It is obvious through the conversation that many people do not accept that Sam is a normal human being that they can have a meaningful relationship with. He is treated as a queer, unstable person and this attitude is the basis of whatever relationship the villagers have with Sam.

Q. ISOBEL COMES ACROSS SAM AND THE GIRL AGAIN

A. At Sam's house, the girl sleeps peacefully in the cot with her new pink shoes laid neatly beside her head on the pillow. While growing up, Sam had convinced himself that "the spread of rocks at the foot of the concrete steps leading down from the house to the beach was a foreign country" (p. 93) and the country of his mother's nativity.

B. After breakfast, Sam and the girl decide to go fishing at the beach. Sam carries two long wooden oars over his shoulders, while the girl, still in her black dress, leads the way down the steep steps to the beach. As they walk to the beach, they encounter Isobel at the foot of the steps. Isobel walks up to them and she addresses Sam directly. She tells him her name and tells him she knew his mother. Isobel tells him how Sam's mother used to clean for bethany, her own mother, and how she used to invite her (Isobel) over for tea at her house.

C. Isobel also tells Sam that Bethany was a good woman. Sam tells her that it has been ten years since Bethany died. Sam thanks Isobel for remebering her so well. The encounter unsettles Sam, "he was unsure about this direct human contact" (p. 96). As he moves with the girl, Isobel allows them. She tells Sam that Bethany used to talk about him and that she was always proud of him. When Isobel says this, Sam feels a rush of emotion and he squeezes the girl's hand. Sam comments that his mother was a kind woman, who never had a bad word to say about anybody. 

D. Isobel tells Sam that her own mother did not know about her tea dates with Bethany. She tells Sam that she greatly enjoyed the time out, which was always filled with talks about Sam and the beach. Sam tells her that Bethany taught him almost everything that he knows about the beach. He confesses to her how much he misses her and the fact that he did not have enough time with her. He also tells her that the little girl keeps him lively.

E. Isobel asks Sam if she could come by the house later in the evening. Sam, surprised that anyone would be interested in seeing his house, accepts her proposition. Isobel asks for permission to take a picture of Sam and the girl. She takes the picture of "a tall, brown faced man with sandy hair and a barrel of a chest, looking surprised at the camera" (p. 100) and that of a "tiny little dark-haired girl in a black dress looking at the camera with a stony, expressionless face" (p. 100).

F. Sam teaches the girl how to put a bait on the hook Sam thinks back to all the times that he had fished alone, but now he has someone else with him, sharing the whole experience with him. He also ponders on how much things have changed around him.

He is "less and less speaking to the familiar components of his life and more now talking directly to the girl" (p. 100). The girls sleeps while Sam thinks about asking Isobel to get her some new clothes. He is happy and "pleased that his world now accommodated this funny little girl" (p. 104).  

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Sam relates with Isobel normally, without betraying or displaying any weird or untoward behavior. It shows that Sam is a normal person and that he is not an evil person as some in the village view him. Sam confesses to Isobel how much he misses Bethany, his mother. This shows that Sam is capable of natural human feelings. He also likes the way Isobel spoke about his mother. Sam recalls that only a few people had talked to him after the burial, since he drifted away from people after Bethany's burial.

B. Sam also tells Isobel that the girl does not talk but that she is good company. He tells her that she keeps him lively. Sam confesses the importance of the girl's companionship, in his life, to Isobel. 

C. The girl has brought a lot of changes to Sam's life. He communicates more and more with her than with the familiar components of his life. Sam has come to completely accept the little girl and the changes that she has brought to his life. He feels that Bethany would have liked the little girl if she were alive.

R. ISOBEL PAYS SAM A VISIT

A. Isobel sits at the dining table and reads her late mother's letters from her late father. They were written before she was born. Her father had served in the army and afterwards joined her mother in the village. They both ran a post office for twenty years before he left. Isobel's father always told her about the emptiness in his soul and how he tried to keep his love for her mother alive and how her mother's grim attitude to life shut him out completely.  

B. Isobel never heard her mother's own side of the story. Isobel believes that her mother was jealous of her because her father was in the habit of talking and discussing with her all daylong. Isobel recalls that by the time she was twelve years old, her parents hardly communicated. She clearly remembers the last letter that she got from him, telling her of his plans to go to Australia, to live with his sister and her family.

C. Isobel is at Sam's place at four o'clock, as she had promised. Isobel listens with delight to Sam as he describes the fishing trip. The cat comes around and Sam greets it and asks it if it had seen the clouds that were gathering up. Sam gives the cat the turbot skin that he and the girl had saved for it. Isobel remarks that it was so nice of Sam to allow her to see the house again. Isobel remarks that everything in the house is as it was and Sam responds that he does not usually see the need to fix things tht are not broken or change things that do not need a change. Sam thanks Isobel for the time that she spent with Bethany when she was alive. He says that he has realised since the little monkey - the girl - came that it is nice to have someone to talk to.

D. Isobel asks Sam for the name of the girl and this is when he realizes that he does not even know her name. He recounts how he found her at the beach. Isobel tells Sam that the girl must be someone's child. Sam explains that he had taken her to the village to see if they could locate her parents and that he had checked for any news about her in the papers, and found none. She asks him why he had not gone to report to the police. Sam says that he had not seen a reason to bother the police about her since they have a job to do. Sam had felt that the girl was free to stay with him if she wanted to and he did not ponder on the matter further.

E. When Isobel leaves, Sam and the girl eat runner beans and potato from the garden and lamb chops for supper. Sam tells the girl that he ought to have asked Isobel to help him to pick new clothes for her. Sam thinks of how strange it is that his life has now suddenly become "womanised" (p. 117). Before the arrival of the girl, his acceptance of his place in the life about him "did not involve an awareness of his sex or even character - it was more a flow of things and animals and time and weather, all linked together like a sea" (p. 117). 

However, Sam knew that the world depended on reproduction, between animals and even humans. In the past when desires raged through his body, he would simply go to the "rough areas" (p. 117) of the town and find a woman willing to satisfy his urge.  

F. Sam recalls his parents' marriage. He does not know how his father met his mother but he idealized their marriage. He sees in their marriage a "perfect story of human companionship and stoicism" (p. 118). He ponders on how he could ever measure up to his father - a man who lived his life selflessly and his mother who "had battened down her gried and had raised him so perfectly" (p. 118). He resigns to the fact that he "could never achieve the grace of his parents' marriage" (p. 118 - 119).

G. The girl comes into the kitchen where Sam is. He tells her that although she has turned his life upside down, he is okay with the situation of things because they make a good team. He realized that since she emerged into his life, the familiar objects of his conversations — the fridge, the cooker, the house - seem to have melted back into the distance.

H. Sam tells the girl that they will have to sort out some things, like her education. He tells her that she can go to his former school and that he will have any tea ready for her, whenever she returned from school. He tells her that they will need to go and see Isobel, so that she can help them to choose some clothes for her. As Sam goes into his bedroom, he sees the black cat on his bed, he tells that that is the best place for it. Sam goes outside the house to ensure that he and the girl have not left anything outside.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The episode relates the impact of dysfunctional families on children. Some of lsobel's issues can be traced back to the problems that existed in her parents' marriage.

B. In the case of Sam, the death of his father seems to have affected his mental and emotional development as he regards human beings, animals and inanimate objects in the same light. He calls the little girl a monkey. It also does not bother him that he does not know the girl's name.

C. The encounter between Sam and Isobel shows the evolution of what could become a budding, sensual relationship between them. When Sam takes a look at Isobel, he notices that she is wearing a pretty summer dress and that her lips are a "soft pink as they smiled at him" (p. 111). 

D. Sam lives his life as it suits him. His abstinence from sex is largely self-imposed through his isolation from people after his mother died. Since her death, he has also stayed away from alcohol and he is resigned to the fact that he can never have a graceful marriage as his parents did and this makes him drift away from people, live quietly amongst the elements of the world and forget about developing relationships with anyone, until the appearance of the girl and Isobel.

S. ISOBEL ENCOUNTERS SAM AT THE BEACH

A. Isobel goes to the village registry to sign her mother's death certificate. Back at the cottage, Isobel thinks of writing a letter to someone, anyone, who would reply her and tell her how to move on with her life. She sits at the dining table and drinks her tea, unable to do anything.  B  Sam, at his own end, spends the day with the young girl on his farm. Both of them work hard on the farm, the girl helps by passing bricks to Sam for the wall that he is building. 

The girl also plays with the cats and chickens in the yard. Sam notices that the girl is happy in her surroundings, she does not show any concern, fear or discontent. She always finds something to engage in. He tells her to go to bed while he goes to the beach.

C. At the beach, Sam discovers that there are no stars in the sky that night. He starts to fish. Sam loves fishing, he loves "the calm rhythm, the splash of the lure into the water, the feel of the wet sand under his shoes, the evening breeze on his face, the gentle noise of the surf, the occasional call of a gull and the emptiness of the beach" (pp. 127 — 128). He catches a bass, about three to four pounds in weight. Sam hears Isobel's voice. Sam asks her what she is doing, at that hour, at the beach.

D. Sam realize that Isobel is cold, he gives her his coat. Isobel faints and he carries her to his house. At his apartment, Sam lays Isobel on his bed and makes her take some tea. As Isobel lays on Sam's bed, she feels a certainty that she has felt all day and she has no fears. Isobel is happy as she lays in Sam's bed because "she knew that there was nowhere else she could be" (pp. 137 - 138). 

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The absence of the stars as Sam begins to fish is symbolic as nature foreshadows the tragedy that looms in Sam's life.

B. The girl's coming makes Sam aware of the need for him to interact with other human beings. He had gotten so immersed in his own world that he barely noticed that his world was strangely devoid of humans. This makes it easy for him to become friendly with Isobel who has also come to the realization that Sam seems to know everything that she wants and needs.

T. SAM TAKES CARE OF ISOBEL

A. Sam talks quietly to the gas cooker. He tells it about finding two females on the beach. He then addresses the room and tells it that the night was a strange night. Although recent events have caused a disturbance to Sam's routine, he does not feel perturbed by the changes. Sam discover that he had gotten so used to the things around him that he did not notice the absence of human beings in his life until the girl showed up. Both of them have appeared in his life and "merged into his life without friction" (p.139). The girl fits in "through her natural ease and the obvious pleasure" (p. 139) that she takes from being with him; Isobel fits in because of her "extraordinary connection" (p. 139) with Bethany, his mother.

B. Sam makes Isobel take some tea, to revive her. He asks her what she was doing at the beach and she says that she was watching him. Isobel tells Sam that she does not want to go home and Sam says her decision is acceptable to him. Sam thinks of leaving Isobel to sleep on the bed while he sleeps on the bench. Isobel asks him not to leave her yet. He stays on and makes love to her.

C. The girl wakes up in the morning and plays outside towards the steps that lead to the beach. She watches a flock of oyster catches and she imitates their calls "with a little high-pitched squeak which made her laugh". She picks up flat stones and throws them into the water. When she returns home, she finds Isobel sitting at the kitchen table. Sam pours water from the kettle into the tea pot. While Sam is in the kitchen preparing toast, Isobel makes attempts at explaining to the girl how she fainted on the beach the previous day and how Sam had to bring her home.

D. Sam serves both Isobel and the girl. Isobel tells the girl that Sam looks after the two of them. She further declares that Sam is the last good man on earth. She states that she and the girl are the only people on earth who know that Sam is the last good man.

E. Sam requests Isobel to help pick new clothes for the girl. He explains that Isobel is the only woman that they know and that they had had plans to come to her for help. Isobel replies that she will be pleased to help Sam and the girl out. Isobel decides to take the girl into the village that very morning to buy some clothes. Sam tells Isobel that he will give her the money for the clothes but she tells him that she will pay for them.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Isobel declares her love for Sam. Her attraction for him had grown out of curiosity and amazement. She declares that Sam is the last good man on earth. Her offer to pay for the girl's clothes also shows her own generosity and kindness, qualities that the writer obviously wants the reader to imbibe.

U. ISOBEL TAKES THE GIRL OUT TO BUY SOME CLOTHES

A. Isobel leaves the house with the girl. While they are away, Sam works on the farm. He feels truly invigorated; the events of the previous evening and night fill him with joy. He explains to the concrete mixer how the "beautiful, fragile city woman had entered into his life in such an extraordinary way" (p. 153). For the first time since his mother's death, Sam has people in his life. In previous times, Sam had not thought that other human beings could have a place in his life. Sam is thrilled now that he has these women in his life. 

B. Sam recalls all the happy moments that he has had with the girl and Isobel. He hopes that he will no longer have the bad dreams that he used to have about his father. He feels that he was having the nightmares with his father involved in the scenes probably because his father wants him to be happy, with women to look after him. Sam "believes that the girl's silent companionship has signalled the end of his own quiet isolation" (p. 156). He wishes that the moment will last forever.

C. As Isobel and the girl leave Sam's house to buy some clothes, Isobel begins to think about the book that she has always wanted to write. She realises that she is ready to write her own book She plans that she would write a letter, addressed to Sam, as the introduction to the story. She decides that her letter, like Heloise's letter, will serve to seek advice and guidance, she will ask Sam how to live.  

D. Isobel decides to start composing the letter immediately. She takes the girl to Marion and asks her to keep watch over the girl, while she writes. She opines that the girl will get to know Marion's children. Marion is surprised and she tries to say some things to Isobel but Isobel does not listen. She runs off to write the book She hears knocks on the door and finds Marion and the girls, standing in front of her door, with a policewoman and some villagers.

E. Meanwhile, Sam walks home from the farm. As he walks, he sees some sloe berries on the lane and tells them of his approval of their growth. He thinks of Isobel and he smiles broadly. Sam thinks of building a new bedroom, so that the girl can have her own room. Sam explains to the hedgerow that Isobel is a nice woman.

SIGNIFICANCE.

A. The interaction between Sam, Isobel and the young girl has led to dramatic and profound positive transformation in their individual lives. The presence of the girl and Isobel in Sam's life has filled his life with so much joy. They have brought changes into his life. Sam had not thought that people could have a place in his life since his mother died. Before the girl's arrival, Sam had taught himself to pass by people quickly and to leave a space between him and them. In the case of Isobel, it is obvious that she has become attracted to Sam and the relationship that has started to develop between them has also led her to take a decision to start writing her book

V. THE POLICE COME FOR SAM

A. Isobel finds it hard to understand why she is sitting at the back of a police car, driving up the steep hill out of the village. She reasons that Sam will be unhappy that she has not got the girl's clothes.  

B. As the police car gets to Sam's house, the girl leaps out of the car and runs towards Sam. Sam picks her up and sits her on his huge right arm. The policeman walks towards Sam and asks if the girl is his child. Sam finds it hard to comprehend all that is happening around him, and he thinks that the best thing would be for him to leave the scene and go home. 

The policeman attempts to stop him and Sam glares angrily at him, at Marion, and then he shouts that the policeman should get out of his way.

C. Isobel moves out of the car and the policewoman questions her. She runs after Sam, but he is striding forward, as the policeman follows him, shouting questions at him. Sam runs with the child. The policeman calls after him that he has to give up the girl. Sam gets the child into the house. Sam brings out the old shotgun that he had found on the beach years ago. He points the shotgun at the policeman and begins to yell: "Getaway! Getaway!" (p. 169).

D. Everyone attempts to hide when the policeman announces that Sam has a gun with him. The girl, who now becomes a participant narrator laughs because all the people look so foolish as they trip over one another as they retreat back from the house. Sam sits on the bench outside the kitchen, with his rusty shotgun with him. Through the girl, the reader learns that Sam does not even have cartridges for the gun. The girl knows that she will have to leave Sam soon. She narrates that she loved living with Sam, they 'were a good team' (p. 170). 

The girl hears a man dressed in suit asking Sam to let the girl out through the front gate. However, Sam is not listening to him. Many people with guns are surrounding the house. 

E. Isobel tries to explain some things to the policeman but he does not listen to her. A policewoman is assigned to look after Isobel. However, she succeeds in sneaking away. She leaves for the lighthouse. At the lighthouse, Isobel thinks of her book She also thinks of Heloise and Abelard. The girl predicts that the police will go to the lighthouse in search of Isobel and when they find her, she willjump and she will land on the rocks.

F. The nosie that the man with the loud hailer makes annoy Sam. Sam yells and moves across the yard, he holds the shotgun, as if he would aim. Then, a policeman shoots and many more shots are heard; they are all directed towards Sam. The girl announces that she is up in the sky and that from there she can see "poor Sam lying on the concrete by the wall" (p. 174), apparently dead, from the gunshots fired at him by the police officers. 

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Sam is grossly misunderstood by everyone. The police misunderstood him; the villagers also misunderstand his intentions and this culminates in the tragic death of Sam. At the end of the narration, the grief is palpable and overwhelming, especially with the feeling that the readers gets, about Isobel and the great and negative psychological impact that Sam's death would have on her. 

THEMES

1. DEATH

The inevitability of death is a phenomenon that binds every human being togther. Many deaths are recorded in Patience Swift's The Last Good Man. The narrative begins by relating the events that lead to the death of a tourist, who died while he was trying to reach his children, and it ends with the news of Sam's death and lsobel's destruction, an idea that the reader gets through the comments and ruminations of the girl. The narrator relates the numerous deaths that had occurred in the village: that of Sam's father who drowned; Sam's mother who took ill; Isobel's father who died in Australia; and Isobel's mother who died of cancer. Isobel tells of other deaths that she has had knowledge of; as an orderly in a hospital in the city, she has seen "time and again, as the curtains were drawn around the bed on the ward" (p. 7). Through Isobel's recollections, the reader also learns about the tragic death of Abelard and Heloise, the historical characters from a story she was told and had read about in her childhood, whose demise prefigure what would eventually happen to her and Sam.

2. HOSPITALITY: 

Sam is very kind and hospitable. He cares for everyone that needs his help. He does not just cater for humans alone but also animals. He shares his meals and his home with the black cat. He asks the cat why it did not come into the house the night before, so as to avoid being beaten by the rain. He nurtures both the girl and Isobel. He opens his home to them. He feeds them and meets their needs.  At the beginning of the narrative, Sam helps a boy to repair his bicycle, without the boy asking for his help. Sam does not care whether people appreciate what he does for them or not, he just does those things. Sam's ancestry consists of kind and hospitable people. His great-grandfather, his father and his mother were all warm and generous people. Sam's great-grandfather was the one that set up the first lighthouse; his father died while trying to save others. Sam's mother was a friendly woman; she invites Isobel for tea in her house and she also gives sweets to young children.  The narrator proclaims that Isobel is a kind person, that people often unburden themselves on her and that she usually felt obliged to support them. She gives out moeny to people and she shops for her neighbor. In the novel, kindness and hospitality are foregrounded as indispensable qualities that every human being must possess.

3. SOCIETY VERSUS THE INDIVIDUAL: 

Sam acts contrary to what society expects of him and he is therefore destroyed by the overwhelming odds placed in his path by his detractors. The society could not understand Sam. He is therefore adjudged by others as a strange man. His acts of kindness go unrewarded and unacknowledged. The people find it hard to comprehend him and they pronounce that he must be an evil man. To the villagers, Sam is the odd one out. The police, a part of the society, saw him as an outlaw and they put an end to his life. No one takes notice of the fact that Sam cared for the girl and has not hurt her in any way. Isobel is another individual whom many find it hard to comprehend. Both Sam and Isobel are eventually destroyed.

4. LONELINESS: 

This theme is reflected through the lives of Sam and Isobel. Sam lived a lonely life, as an only child. His age mates saw him as an object of ridicule. His loneliness is heightened by his mother's death. He turns away from human beings and seeks solace in nature. From that time on, "Sam had become settled in his skin and felt such gentle happiness" (p. 22). Before the girl showed up on the beach, Sam had gradually become "accustomed to yielding to the flow of the seasons and the tides and the weather" (p. 138), that he does not notice the absence of human beings from his life. It is because of Sam's loneliness that he talks to the kitchen, to crabs, to the wall and to oter elements of nature. Sam enjoys the girl's company so much; he believes that "the girl's silent companionship has signaled the end of his own quiet isolation" (p. 156).  Isobel also lived a lonely life. Many people found it hard to comprehend her. Even when she was still at home, her mother found it hard to comprehend her. In her loneliness, Isobel just raised her questions and directed them to no one in particular. Sam's loneliness ended with the arrival of the girl and Isobel but his joy was short-lived. Isobel also found joy in loving Sam but their bliss is cut short by the tragic death of Sam.

MAJOR CHARACTERS

SAM

A: Sam lives in a little cottage on the other side of the headland. His apartment used to be the lighthouse before the new one was built. He is very huge man and the narrator calls him a great giant. He is in his fifties, he is a strong-looking man. He is an only child who had lost his father when he was very young and had lost his mother about ten years before his own death.

B. Sam is a very kind-hearted man. He usually helps people even when they did not ask for his help. He helps a boy to fix his bicycle on his way back from the beach on the day that the tourist died. Sam is not bothered that the boy does not show gratitude for his help. He finds the girl on the beach and does his best to resuscitate her and takes care of her. He also caters for Isobel's needs. Sam is not only kind to human beings but also to animals. He feeds and shelters the black cat.

C. Sam is a committed and compassionate son. He comes back to the village to look after his mother when she was ill. Marion testifies that he actually came back to the village to see to his mother's health and since she died, he had not left the village.

D. He is also a very hardworking man. He is self-sufficient to a reasonable extent. He grows most of the foodstuffs that he needs. He owns a vegetable garden, which caters for most of his need. He does most of his work effortlessly; while working on construction sites and when he became self employed . Sam farms, fishes, builds and manufactures all by himself.

E. Sam does not particularly distinguish children from adults. To him, everyone is a part of the whole and all are humans. For a long time, Sam is unconscious of how he appears to people. Sam's value and worth exist only relation to the things about him with which he interacted. The last person that he had cared for had been his mother before she died. After the death of his mother. . . and until the girl's arrival, Sam's world maintained little contact with other humans.

F. Before the arrival of the girl and Isobel on the scene, Sam had "drifted away from people and lived amongst the elements of the world" (p. 110). With the girl and Isobel around Sam, his joy knows no bound. He sings as he does his work He laughs and chats with no one in particular.

G. Sam is described by Isobel as "the last good man". She laments that she and the girl are the only people on earth who know that Sam is the last good man. Before the women came into his life, Sam had not thought that human beings could have a place in his life. He taught himself to pass humans quickly and quietly and to always leave a space between him and them.

H. Many villagers see Sam as a weird (strange) person. That is why seeing Sam with a young girl caught the attention of Geoff, who discussed it with other men, of whom Michael, Marion's husband is one. Sam is grossly misunderstood by many and this leads to his tragic end.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. Sam is the protagonist of the narrative. According to Isobel, he is the last good man on earth. He always tries to be good and kind to all that he comes across.

B. Sam is an epitome of kindness and hospitality. He accommodates everyone who comes to him for both shelter and food. He feeds the black cat, the gulls, the girl and Isobel.

2. ISOBEL

A. Isobel is a thirty-five year old woman who grew up in the village and eloped with a boy to the city when she was still a teenager. She works as an orderly in a hospital in the city. Randomness (haphazardness) informs Isobel's life. She does things as she wishes. There are days that Isobel wakes up feeling like she left the village when she was only halfway through her A-Ievel course, with a boy who hardly knew what he was doing.

B. Isobel has dense, long, blonde hair. The narrator of the story maintains that Isobel is a kind and compassionate person. The narrator suggests that compassionate nature could be the reason why she presently works in a hospital. Since she moved to the citty, Isobel has been kind to many people. Her life in the city is filled with many people who depend on her. She always feels obliged to support other people. She tells the doctor about the boy in the flat below hers, who she shops for because he does not like to go out; she also tells him that she often gives out money to those in need.

C. Many people, including her mother, find it hard to fully comprehend Isobel. She is always hesitant and her mother used to chastise her for this. Even after Isobel left for the city, she still hears the echoes of her mother's rebuke in her ears. She usually reads psychology books whenever she hears the echoes of her mother's rebuke in her ears. Isobel's father was an army officer. He did not enjoy his marriage and he tried hard to relate his feelings to Isobel, whom he apparently loved with all his heart.

D. Isobel goes back to the village when she hears the news of her mother's death. Three days before she heard the news, the older doctor with whom she spoke at work had advised her to go and see her mother. But it became too late, because Isobel's mother had died just before she returned from the city. In the village, Isobel notices Sam and the girl that she perceives to be his granddaughter. She is curious about the girl's formal black dress. Isobel seeks to know Sam better. She trails Sam and the girl and then she pays them a visit.

E. For Isobel, absolute certainty is like a state of grace. To others, Isobel appears witful and capricious, carefree and wild. To Sam, Isobel is a very nice lady. He sees her as a beautiful and pleasant woman. Isobel expresses her love for Sam and this brings Sam great joy.

F. During a discussion with an older doctor at the hospital where she works, Isobel reveals to the doctor about a book that she wishes to write. She desires to write a book about "love, certainty, longing, regret, survival" (p. 54). She eventually starts to write the book but she does not complete it. Isobel is greatly influenced by the books that she read at the bookshop when she was fifteen years old; the most influential of those books is The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. She is grossly obsessed with what she read in The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, so much that she consults an invisible Abelard and Heloise from time to time.

G. At the peak of Sam's mishap, Isobel sneaks to the lighthouse. The girl predicts that Isobel will jump from the lighthouse and land on the rocks when the police find her at the lighthouse.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. She brings joy to Sam. She brings hope to Sam. As Sam works on farm . . . beautiful family with Isobel and the girl.

B. She is a product of an unhappy union. She recalls her father misery. . . recalls her mother's inflexibilitv and lack of sensitivity.

3. THE GIRL

A. The girl appears on the scene wearing a formal black dress, a prefiguration (foreshadowing) of the tragedy that would eventually envelop the girl's benefactor, Sam. She is rescued at the beach by Sam. Sam resuscitates her and takes her home with him. She becomes Sam's helper, friend and companion. Sam enjoys her company. Her presence in his life makes Sam to be conscious of humans and the importance of having human beings around him. She learns how to fish from Sam.

B. She is always happy in her surroundings; she expresses no discontent and no fear. She is generous to the black cat and the gulls. She is also hardworking. She always helps Sam with his chores. They were a good team. She likes to tidy up everywhere. She helps him to clean and arrange the cutlery drawer on her first day in his apartment. On the farm, she helps him to carry the tomatoes that he picks.

C. The girl does not talk; it is towards the end of the narrative, when she takes up the narration of the story that the reader gets to know her thoughts. She declares that Sam knows a lot more than most people. She tells the reader of how shots were fired in Sam's direction; she also predicts the tragc end of Isobel. At the end of the narrative, she says that she is high up in the sky and that suggests that she is probably an immortal being who has sent to help Sam for a while.

SIGNIFICANCE

A. The girl is Sam's helper and companion. She is the one that also draws Isobel's attention to Sam. She keeps staring at Isobel whenever they encounter her. The girl's presence in Sam's house is what leads to Sam's eventual tragic end.

MINOR CHARACTERS

1. BETHANY

A. Bethany is Sam's mother. Sam was her only child and she loved him very much. She would usually keep his hot tea and bread waiting for him after school. She tucked him into bed and listened to him when he was much younger; Sam would usually drift to sleep "with the heart shape of her face imprinted in his mind" (p.42). She moved out of her space to give enough privacy to Sam when he was old enough to have his own room. She also helped Sam to save his money. Sam remarks that she was brave; he relates that she lived on her own for many years and "she never complained and she never had a bad word to say about anyone" (p. 97). She remained strong for Sam, after Sam's father died.

B. She made nice buns, cakes and sandwiches. Marion remarks that she was a very nice and polite woman. She used to invite Isobel to have tea at her apartment. She also gave sweets to young