The relationship of Hartley and Mitsy can be called a multiphase relationship because it has gone through many phases such as physical passion, unrequited love from Hartley's side of the relationship, estrangement, hostility, friendship lost & gained, and at the end an uncertain future. At the beginning of the novel Hartley becomes friends with Mitsy, because Alice (Hartley's sister) was good friends with Mitsy and with Hartley spending a lot of time with Alice & Mitsy they all became friends. After Hartley and Mitsy became friends their relationship went into a new phase and Hartley says " I fell in love with Mitsy in the darkness of the tin-walled cinema in Sheba Lane." When the lights would turn off in the cinema the romantic attachment between Hart and Mitsy is revealed as being forged in the dark of the cinema through subtle and tantalizing contact of shoulders and knees. The next phase is a phase of estrangement. This estrangement phase came about as a result of Hart, Mitsy, & Alice taking Derby to the Penrose house where Hartley's pre justice mother tells Derby that he must find somewhere else to stay. Then Ida's curt treatment of Mitsy, which is the intrusion of racism, leads to a misunderstanding and conflict between Mitsy and Hart.
Mitsy then becomes cool and distant from Hart, but Hart's feelings remained the same for Mitsy. Now that Mitsy was distancing herself from Hart and Hart still felt the same about Mitsy as he did before Ida caused the misunderstanding that led to conflict. Now there was unrequited love. Which could be seen clearly when Jamie Kilian the new kid on the block comes to Hartley's birthday party.
At Hartley's birthday party there is competitiveness between Hartley & Jamie that almost immediately turns into rivalry while Mitsy is still cool as a cucumber towards Hart. Hartley becomes desperately frustrated in his romantic intentions towards Mitsy. He grew suspicious to the point of paranoia and starts following Jamie Killan. After that out of a desperate restlessness and boredom, Hart's father Michael decides to go pearling at a time when the weather had shut down the pearling industry temporarily. Disaster strikes with a massive force that nearly kills Hart.
He is saved by Mitsy's father Zeke who is lost at sea. Badly injured Hartley is tended by Mitsy and Alice in a Broome hospital. The hospital is where Mitsy and heart reconcile in a sex scene, which involves Mitsy giving Heart a sponge bath and a flick on his penis with her fingers. Mitsy feels lost without her father and in their shared grief and suffering they reach out to each other. Facing eviction and coming under increasing harassment from people in Broome Mitsy Soda ko are invited to come and stay with the Penrose.
Mitsy gets into bed with hart and they become lovers for a while. Tensions of the Second World War rise and so do the tensions if the Penrose household. Mitsy and hart become increasingly distant as everyone for news of Alice who faces an uncertain fate at the hands of the Japanese Army. Their sexual relationship begins to decline as the tenderness fades and hart says " it was a short step from that to having hateful sex with her." Hart follows Mitsy and finds her meeting up with Jaime Killan, which probably marks the end of the lovers phase. After the lovers phase comes a phase of hostility.
A letter arrived from Malaya reporting Alice is missing. Mike Penrose collapses in stress and confusion. Hart abuses Mitsy by saying you bitch, shortly after the war reaches Broome. Jamie is killed in the war.
Mitsy and Sad ako make plans to leave Broome and do so. As time goes by Mitsy initiates contact with Hartly in a letter that reveals her love for him he waits for her. She remains committed to a relationship with Hart. But their future seems very uncertain to Hart. He seems only willing to see what happens. Hartly sums up this multiphase relationship very well in the end when he said "we'd started off as friends, we were lovers for a while, then there was hate and indifference.
Now friendship replaced all that, but a friendship that cant offer or ask too much.".