Kiernan looks at the text as an organic whole that presents a unified meaning to the reader. Kiernan examines the role of the narrator in establishing this meaning, concluding that all of the text is a drama because of Tom Collins' presence in the action. This enables the reader to consider the whole without the author's intervention. The novel is a success, therefore, according to the "critical standards which demand a novel . . . be a fully objectified work of art".