At its highest level, the brooding tension between Frank and Laurence in their unlikely relationship is symbolic of the struggle for supremacy between the forces of old and new. When Laurence's wide-eyed enthusiasm is pitted against Frank's resigned and cynical indifference, the result is cataclysmic, far beyond the reader's imagination. While Galgut's story is touched by death and regret, his vision isn't entirely bleak. When Laurence and Frank swap beds, deadbeat after a long night out, they feel strangely comfortable in each other's beds. Like yin and yang, are they not twin halves of a pupa society emerging from its chrysalis ? Laurence's stubborn perseverance against the stultifying bureaucracy of Dr Ngema's hospital isn't always altruistic. His callous disregard for Frank's plight as he goes in frenzied pursuit of his vision of setting up a village clinic is delirious if not a little mad. In spite of this, it is Laurence who unleashes the momentum that forces Frank to examine what's wrong in his thwarted life - his failed relationships with his father, his ex-wife, Maria, etc, and who is ultimately the catalyst for Frank's transformation.