Sebastian Barnack, the youthful protagonist in Aldous Huxley's Time Must Have a Stop, is a gifted poet in his teens. He is also uncommonly handsome, with an angelic face framed with curls. He despises his sweet baby faced looks, and their contrast with the serious, poetical genius he regards himself, rightly, to be.
His father is a comically dour, stern, uncompromising lawer who espouses socialist politics, and secretly resents Sebastion's resemblence to his late wife, a beauty with flighty ways. Barnack, Sr. denies denies Sebastian every material advantage--even a decent set of evening clothes. Such luxuries will corrupt the boy, and certainly the poor lads farming coal in Whales don't enjoy such frivoloties. Hence, Sebastian must consort with his wealthy British public school cronies wearing frayed hand me downs, which only aggravates his self-conscious dislike of his youthful appearance.
Sebastian exults when he is sent to Italy to visit Uncle Eustace, a worldly man who shows him life's finer things and even gives him a Degas, and, even better, promises him some new evening clothes. Sebasion also falls in love with an earthy but conniving caretaker at Eustace's mansion, and is seduced by her. All is going well, but unfortunately Eustace suddenly dies and Sebastian, suddently realizing he will not get his evening clothes, decides to swap the Degas for a new tuxedo, being greatly cheated in the process.
An auditor of the late uncle's estated notes the missing Degas and accusations of theft against innocent employees multiply. Sebastian remains silent, while others are accused and suffer. Finally, he knows he must get the Degas back. Unable to do so himself, he enlists the help of Uncle Bruno, a dotty, religious zealot.
Uncle Bruno is able to retrieve the painting but at great cost--calling on friends that inadvertently make himself an enemy of the Italian Fascisti. The Fascist police imprison and mistreat Bruno, and hasten his declining health.
Sebastian undertakes the care of the dying uncle, and while doing is profoundly altered by the old man's kindness and spirituality. Bruno's effects a transformation in Sebastian, helping him achieve profounder vision, awareness, maturity, love, and compassion for others. Bruno's effect on the young man is still felt, as an epilogue indicates, years later into Sebastian's life, when postwar, and missing a leg, he still writes poetry.
This report prepared by Damon LaBarbera