Paul and Kellers initial encounter in Darwin is able to highlight their dissimilarities and vastly opposing characteristics, as Paul is totally unreceptive of Kellers personality and teaching methods. As they are able to learn more about one another, aspects of their life are made evidently similar. Mutual missed chances and blind actions resulting from youthful arrogance show Keller and Paul to be quite similar. The powerful human emotion of regret shared by both characters becomes increasingly prominent as the story progresses. Kellers death marks a regret and sorrow for the loss of ones youth and innocence, as both characters are left with the bitter memories of their earlier lives, emphasising that the opportunities of the past are never available to us again.
In Pauls initial Piano lessons with the Maestro, he shows a strong resentment towards his new teacher and his methods. Paul feels belittled as his teacher gives him a downgrading criticism, a seemingly new concept to Paul, who has forever been showered in the praise of his parents. His sense of superiority stems from his closeted life, influenced by his parents and their expressions of arrogance towards those around them, and this is able to inflate and magnify his youthful egotism. Keller denies Paul the opportunity to even play the piano, as he says to him I have heard hands like yours before. Paul dislikes this brutal manner from the very first of their meetings, as Kellers deflating advice is able to undermine Pauls egotistical opinion of his own abilities as a musician. Paul labels Keller a Nazi and a war criminal after being denied to play, and made to feel like a child. Both characters seem immensely different at this stage, Keller a controlling, domineering figure, and Paul a youthful, egotistical boy with an exaggerated self-importance. Keller is able to recognise this about Paul immediately, fuelling their conflict by labelling Paul as being spoilt and challenging him with the notion that he does not understand that he does not understand. As they grow these differences fade, and their journeys appear to have some similarities.
Aspects of the lives of Paul and Keller are able to become increasingly similar to one another as the story develops, and the reader is able to learn more of Kellers past. As his story is revealed piece by piece, our pity is aroused as we begin to conceive the extent of his unspeakable private pain, losing his own wife and son to the holocaust through his own arrogant belief that he was untouchable. Keller is able to recognise this same youthful arrogance and egotistical opinion in Paul as he, too, suffered from these traits. He sees something of his younger self in Pauls excessive pride, and Keller tries to teach Paul the lessons he thinks must be learnt if he is to avoid making the same mistakes he did. However, Paul is not receptive of Kellers positive intent for him, suggesting Keller is only growing ever fonder of the sound of his own voice. The story progresses and the powerful human emotion of regret becomes prominent in both characters. It is in this sense that the choices made by both Keller and Paul in their earlier lives result in both living out their adult lives in regret over youthful arrogance. Goldsworthys ending gives a profound insight into the fact that opportunities of the past are never available to us again.
As Paul watches in dismay as his old friend dies a lonely man in a hospice, he is left with only the bitter memories of his own decisions throughout his earlier life. Like the harsh lessons learnt too late by Keller himself, it is through failure and disappointment that Paul is finally able to learn empathy. But by this time it is too late for him to embrace Keller for what he truly had to offer. While his failure is not as intense or emotionally destructive as Kellers, his defeat leaves him in a state of depression and frustration. This result holds parallels to Kellers final mindset, as they both have a remembrance of their youths and opportunities that are understood only as an adult reflecting on the paths that were taken, and the regret over the paths that could have been taken. With Kellers death brings recognition of Pauls own situation: greying, dissatisfied, fast approaching mid-life. Paul is unhappy with his past and dissatisfied with the present, holding only the retrospective views and an ability to grow and mature as a person from past mistakes.
The story of Maestro is able to effectively portray retrospective emotions of regret, accompanied with the arrogant and selfish decisions made through a youthful inexperience. The luxury of hindsight and maturity is shown to allow reflection on past decisions, as Keller and Paul both develop feelings of disappointment and failure with their own lives. Although to different emotional extents, both characters show many parallels in their lives and the decisions that have been made throughout.