Paul has a negative view of Herr Keller at the start of the novel. At his first encounter with Keller he describes him as being a complete nut as he wore a collar and tie on a very hot day and had closed the windows instead of letting the air flow through the room. He thought that he was a boozer and a weirdo. Paul also found it very odd that Keller began looking at his fingers and talking about them as if they were real people, and also the fact that he didn t let Paul play in his first lesson. In fact Paul was only allowed to play on his 8th or even 9th lesson with Keller.
He finds Keller s German accent disturbing and even thought of him as a sadist and a Nazi, guilty of numerous war crimes, who fled to Darwin to escape the consequences. He noticed Keller s every fault and scrutinized him. He adopts a very prejudicial mind set of Keller and sees him as a second rate citizen. He did not want to have lessons with him but his father explained that he is the only one in Darwin who could teach him how to play well. Paul saw Keller as a perfectionist. Keller was upset by the slightest of Paul s mistakes and Paul got the idea that Keller disliked him.
On the other hand Paul did not see the faults of his parents and was blind in noticing their imperfections. He ignored the fact that they scrutinized the city of Darwin in a similar manner to him scrutinizing Eduard Keller. They called it a city of drunks, scum, and wife bashers. His father said that somehow all the filth of Australia had been gathered in one town. A city of booze, blow and blasphemy, he called it at times. He was their son and saw no wrong in what they did. He was very biased in his opinions of other people.
When Paul thinks of his parents he sees polarities: hard and soft, hot and cold, fair and dark. He sees them as being complete opposites of each other. For example to his father noon is a 12 o clock sharp give or take a few seconds while to his mother it s a general time period between breakfast and dusk. Paul also wonders whether it is this dissimilarity that keeps them together like the saying Opposites attract or whether it is a hurdle they must overcome in their marriage. Paul s parents regularly practice on the piano and music to them is a way of life.
His father once said that medicine (his profession) was his wife and music his mistress. His mother spent much of her spare time sitting behind the piano. Keller on the other hand, when asked why he didn t practice, answered to Paul that it is only the dirty who need cleaning. Paul adopted a mind set of his parents seeing no faults in them while at the same time picking at every single one of Keller s flaws. This biased view of Keller stuck with Paul for quite some time while his parents always remained the same to him.