The Hummingbird Tree Themes and Summary

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The Hummingbird Tree


The story is told by Alan who is also the central character in the novel. Most of it is told by the older Alan in flashback. Through-out the novel the servants and villagers refer to him as 'Master Alan' although he is a child, this has to do with the social climate at the time. Several things mark off Alan as being superior to the other children; his clothes are better, he uses standard English, he can read, his manners are refined. The major conflict he faces rests in the fact that he gets along far too well with the brown faces; his parents, though quite conservative when compared to other whites at the time, do not want him to get too involved with them. They prefer for him to make friends with people who share their social standing. Alan must choose whether to obey his parents or follow his heart. Several events througout the text calls for him to choose. He obeys his parents when the pressure is too great for him to do otherwise, but he goes against their wishes when he sees that he can get away with it.


Kaiser is a few years older than Alan. He is a handyman at Alan's house. He is Jaillin's brother. As a worker he is reliable and trustworthy and so Alan's father has handpicked him to train him to become a foreman on the estate when he is older. When he is not 'on the job' he is a playful youth. He takes Alan on many adventures, showing him how to blow birds' eggs, make catapult, taking him to Ramlal's bar, the cockfight fete, and generally making him apart of his life. Kaiser does not usually refer to Alan as "Master" because he sees him as an equal, although he does perform his duties with respect. To Alan he is a hero; he can do so many things and he does not seem to be afraid of anyone or anything. However as they grow older, and the differences between them become more pronounced, Alan comes to view him with contempt.


Jaillin is Kaiser's beautiful sister whom Alan finds extremely desireable....
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