Caught up "among spies, gun runners, murderers, maniacs, and revolutionaries," Frank Holliwell is clearly the protagonist of A Flag for Sunrise; his character, however, is delicately interwoven with those of Father Egan, the rector of the mission Holliwell is sent to investigate, his assistant, the morally earnest Sister Justine, and the erratic nomad Pablo Tabor, a Coast Guard deserter who drifts into the turmoil in Tecan by hypothetical accident. Similar to the protagonists in Stone's earlier fiction, Holliwell is alcoholic, self-destructive, and amoral. Anthropologist by profession and former freelance CIA agent by design, Holliwell apparently enjoys flirtation with danger. Characteristic of the fictional hero-adventurer, Holliwell is drawn to Tecan by the scent of excitement and intrigue. Obsessed with the spiritual need to discover self, Holliwell ends his journey with a ritualistic confrontation with his own mortality.
Bristling with religious overtones, the novel serves as a platform for the characters of Father Egan and Sister Justine to test the parameters of faith in the modern world. Weathered by the storm of contemporary absurdity, the philosopher-priest is observed sinking into a form of mystical gnosticism while Sister Justine attempts to reaffirm her distorted sense of devotion by sacrifice in the name of liberating revolution. Striving for perfection in an imperfect world, Sister Justine is characteristic of other Stone...
(The entire section is 343 words.)