(Great Characters in Literature)

Characters Discussed

Jean-Marie-Sylvestre Moan

Jean-Marie-Sylvestre Moan (zhah[n]-mah-REE-sihl-VEHS-treh moh-AH[N]), a strongly built, good-looking young Breton with dark beard and gray-blue eyes; innocent and devout. He vainly tries to interest Yann in marrying Gaud. Serving with the French navy in Indochina, he is shot by a Chinese soldier. He dies of his wound while returning to France aboard a transport ship and is buried at Singapore.

Yvonne Moan

Yvonne Moan (ih-VON), his grandmother, toothless but rosy-cheeked, fresh, and pretty despite her age. She is desolated by Sylvestre’s death and becomes increasingly enfeebled in mind and body.

Marguerite (Gaud) Mevel

Marguerite (Gaud) Mevel (mahr-geh-REET goh meh-VEHL), his charming and wealthy cousin, flaxen-haired, hazel-eyed, with a Grecian profile and a body like a lovely statue; tall, serious, virtuous, quietly poised, and low-voiced. In love with Yann, she longs desperately for him but, ladylike, will not thrust herself upon him. After her father’s death, the now poor Gaud becomes a seamstress and goes to live with the bereft Yvonne. Supremely happy when she is finally married to Yann, she bears the grief of his loss with quiet dignity.

Jean (Yann) Gaos

Jean (Yann) Gaos (zhah[n] yahn gay-OHS), a fisherman and ex-gunner in the French navy, a giant of a man, clean-shaven, with a curling blond mustache. Kindhearted, he is occasionally rough and almost brutal without intending harm, and now and then given to bursts of temper. Not seriously interested in women, he loves the sea. He is grieved to learn of Sylvestre’s death and his burial far from home. Urged by his relatives and Yvonne, he finally proposes to a joyously surprised Gaud, and they are married six days before he leaves again with the fishing fleet. His ship, however, does not return; the sea he loved has married him at last.

Marie Gaos

Marie Gaos, Sylvestre’s fiancée, sister of Yann.

Captain Guermeur

Captain Guermeur (gehr-MEWR), skipper of the Marie.

M. Mevel

M. Mevel, Gaud’s father, a wealthy, semi-piratical speculator who dies after losing his fortune.

Mme Tressoleur

Mme Tressoleur (treh-soh-LEWR), a portly, mustached, blunt, coquettish tavern operator.


Guillaume (gee-YOHM), a fisherman on the Marie.