It is about justice because all Ronnie’s father Arthur wants is justice and to save the family pride and name from looking bad. He doesn’t want people thinking his family are thieves. Secondly it is about innocence, Arthur is trying so hard to prove that his son is innocent he really does believe Ronnie that he didn’t steal the postal order and wont stop until the judge agrees he is innocent. The play begins in the drawing room of the Winslow’s house in court field gardens, south Kensington. It is a time just before the war 1914-1918 it is Sunday morning.
In act 1 scene 1 the book is all about Ronnie when he first gets back from his school expelled. He has a letter from his school principal explaining why which he must give to his parents to read, but he doesn’t. When he comes home from school he speaks to the maid he tells her that term has ended and then goes and hides in the garden from his parents with the letter so as they wont spot him. His parents get back from church and he is still stood in the garden it is now raining. Ronnie can see that his parents are having a conversation in the kitchen through the French windows in the garden.
When he finally goes in he explains what has happened to his mother she believes he is innocent. You also find out in the first part of the book that they are a very well to do middle class family. Arthur, Ronnie’s father is a very proud and respectful man who likes people to think good of him and his family, he’s a bit bossy and expects his wife grace to do what he pleases. Grace Winslow is Ronnie’s mother she is very faithful to her husband, she keeps the children educated and makes sure they are well behaved. She does what Arthur tells her.
Catherine Winslow, Ronnie’s sister is a very independent and strong-minded girl who is in love with John and respects her family. Dickie is Ronnie’s older brother who likes to concentrate more on girls and music than studying for his degree, he’s a very nice kind person. John Watherstone is in love with Catherine and his preparing to ask her father Arthur for her hand in marriage. Ronnie Winslow is the lead role in the play he is a clever young student of Osborne naval academy. His school has accused him of doing something very bad, but we do not know what yet, in the first scene.
He however claims insistently he didn’t do this to his mother and father after they read the letter that was sent home for them to read. His parents are not sure whether to believe him. Ronnie’s father Arthur says to Ronnie in the first scene ‘Ronnie in this letter it says you stole a 5 shilling postal order. Now I don’t want your to say a word until you’ve heard what I’ve got to say. If you did it, you must tell me. I shan’t be angry with you, Ronnie-provided you tell me the truth. But if you tell me a lie, I shall know it, because a lie between you and me can’t be hidden.
I shall know it, Ronnie – so remember that before you speak. Did you steal this postal order? ‘ ‘No father I didn’t’ replied Ronnie. ‘ Arthur now believes Ronnie that he is innocent and did not steal the postal order, he gets his solicitors then to take the matter up with the Lords Of Admiralty and demanded the fullest possible enquiry, but he was met with a blank refusal, and only finally got permission to view the evidence. His solicitors then decided that the evidence was unsatisfactory, and fully justified the re-opening of proceedings.
They applied to the Admiralty for a court Martial. They were ignored. They applied for a civil trial and again they were ignored. But after tremendous pressure had been bought to bear-letters to the papers, questions in the house and other means open to private citizens of the country-the Admiralty eventually agreed to what they called an independent enquiry. However he was found guilty again thus branded for the second time a thief. Arthur does not give in he keeps fighting to clear Ronnie’s name.
The court case has an impact upon the whole family especially Arthur who is now is really upset about the whole thing. The public attitude toward the case is that it is worthless, there are more important issues to be discussed than the case of a fourteen-year-old boy who had been accused of sealing a 5-shilling postal order, because looming in the background, was the growing inevitability of what would later be called “The Great War,” Much of the play centres on whether Arthur should carry on the fight to clear Ronnie’s name its is costing him a lot of money and he might not be able to continue.
He tells Dickie that unfortunately he is going to have to stop going to oxford after the end of his second year Dickie understands but admits that it is a bit of a slap in the face. Much of the scene is building up to the visit by Sir Robert Morton, a very successful barrister, who is coming to interview Ronnie. He is a very expensive and well known for never having lost a case before in his career. Catherine doesn’t like him and I cold towards him when he arrives at the house. The scene finishes with Sir Robert interrogating Ronnie he speaks with high authority.
Robert asks question after question to which Ronnie has to justify himself. Ronnie gives long answers compared to Sir Roberts’s short questions. Sir Roberts talks as if he is in court using legal phrases ‘Ronnie I would like the truth. That is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. ‘ The audience doesn’t know whether to feel sorry for Ronnie or not. Ronnie is feeling upset, frustrated and confused, if he did steal the postal order then he obviously deserves it but at this part of the book we are still unsure whether he did or not.