Small Island

Small Island


Andrea Levy

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Small Island: Chapter 42: Bernard Summary & Analysis

The day after the fire, Bernard’s sergeant tells him he’s in trouble, both for deserting his post and for losing his rifle in the process, and takes him to testify before a lieutenant. The lieutenant asks Bernard if he was in the barracks before the fire and if a meeting was taking place there, and Bernard realizes he’s using the threat of punishment to frighten him into giving information about the forbidden meeting. Not wanting Maxi’s memory to be spoiled by a charge of insubordination, Bernard refuses to talk and is sent to jail.
Bernard’s seemingly inconsequential transgressions contrast with the important choice he has to make, between Maxi’s honor and his own safety and convenience. His silence about the meeting is a brave act, and functions as a reminder of Bernard’s capacity for altruism, even though he so rarely displays it.
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