TOO LATE THE PHALAROPE is set in South Africa, as well as its predecessor, CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY. And like that earlier novel, TOO LATE THE PHALAROPE uses the lives of ordinary people to illustrate the inhuman quality of South African apartheid.
Racial segregation is odious in concept, impossible in application. To prove it, Paton tells us the story of Pieter, a white policeman, who has an affair with a native girl. He is betrayed and reported, and thus brings shame on himself and his family.