Jake's struggle with social conditions is direct and conscious. The spirit of revolution is strong in him. His deepest motive is to do all that he can to change the predatory, unnatural social conditions existing in his world. It is his tragedy that his energies can find no channel in which to flow. He is fettered by abstractions and conflicting ideas—and in practical applications he can do no more than throw himself against windmills. He feels that the present social tradition is soon to collapse completely, but his dreams of the civilization of the future are alternatively full of hope and distrust.
"'You see, we just can't settle down after knowing, but we got to act. And some of us go nuts. There's too much to do and you don't know where to start. It makes you crazy. Even me.'" (p. 155)
Jake's attitude toward his fellow man vacillates continually between hate and the most unselfish love. His attitudes toward the principles of Communism are much the same as his attitudes toward man. Deep inside he is an earnest Communist, but he feels that in concrete applications Communist societies have degenerated into something less than successful. Jake's inner and outer motives are so contradictory at times that it is hardly an exaggeration to speak of the man as being deranged. The burden he has taken on himself is too much for him most of the time.
"If he wished to talk Singer was always attentive. If he sat morosely through the day the mute understood his feelings and was not surprised. It seemed to him that only Singer could help him now. (p. 287)
If Jake cannot act, and in most situations he can't, he talks. Singer is an excellent repository for conversation, and he also attracts Jake because of his stability and calm. Talking to Singer and spending the evening with him becomes a seductive habit for Jake. In the end, with Singer gone, Jake feels he has lost certain inner ballasts. He also holds onto a vague feeling that he has been tricked and that the conclusions and visions he has told the mute are forever lost. After getting trapped up in the violence that seems bred by the town itself, Jake leaves the town much as he came to it—a stranger.
Mick | Doctor Copeland | Biff