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G. C. H. Thomasís "Ruler in Hiroona"

 

(A summary for teachers)

 

The novelís central character and narrator is one Jerry Horatio Mole, who confesses that he is an idle and unsuccessful individualóa drifter who has never been able to hold down a job. A middle-aged, níer-do-well, drifting by relying on his wife Sonia, Mole has chance encounter with one Joe Pittance, a stevedore and part-time hairdresser. Pittance sees a need for a political leader, a man who can galvanize the masses and lead the fight for the independence of Hiroona. Mole tells him though that he is not interested in politics.

 

"You will be able to make money in a easy, easy job, Mr. Mole," insists Pittance.

 

"Well, in that case." I chuckled, pretending to be joking; but I had begun to listen now.

 

Thus, with the motive that of a quick buck, Mole with Pittance, forms a trade union, gathering gullible supporters by attending the funerals of unknown individuals, mourning ostentatiously while blaming the authorities for the death of the deceased. Mole remakes himself as the champion of the working classes, the one looking out for the "poor man." Soon he becomes THE popular political figure on the island, and starts building a political party. He promises a great deal and delivers next to nothing yet gains more and more followers. The dept of his greed is demonstrated when he pockets the compensation money paid by a sugar mill owner to a young and half-witted man injured in an accident.

 

The authorities are agast and even begin trying to obstruct him with the newspaper editor vilifying him. Itís all fruitless however. When the islandís very first general election is finished, Moleís Peopleís Productive Party has grabbed all districts and Mole becomes premier. But the ex-school teacher has discovered that there is only one reason to be a politicianó to make lots of money and to use your political power to try and make more.

He begins to rid himself of opponents.

 

"Thatís well and good," I replied, "but opposition is not the best thing for Hiroona at this stage. Our people have not yet reached the standard of educational development which makes a country safe with an opposition. Our people tend to believe anything the opposition tells them, no matter if it is nonsense. They canít think for themselves as yet."

 

He also nominates his illiterate wife to a ministry and he fiddles his budget. Along the way however, Pittance becomes disillusioned and breaks with him. This marks the beginning of a loss in popularity.

 

Eventually though, Mole is implicated in an arson attack while Pittance forms a rival party that threatens his grip on power. Mole, by now is reduced to seeking the advice of an obeah woman and sticking pins into effigies of his opponents. When this resorting to obeah is revealed, he eventually loses his seat in the general elections.

Mole manages to have the last laugh. He has stashed away enough money to buy four houses and retire. He is reunited with his wife and he wins a lucrative bet with one of his enemies by writing a full account of his political career. That account, is what we have been reading.