Lok, the consciousness through which most of the book is mediated. It is his perceptions of the “new people” that dictate readers’ responses to them, and it is through his thoughts and actions that readers come to understand how Neanderthal people could have constructed their reality. By default, he becomes the people’s leader after the deaths of Mal and Ha, but it is not a role that sits easily on him. By nature, he is a joker and clown. His decisions are not always the best. Fa’s instincts are sounder, and he finds himself deferring to the power of her intuitive intelligence. He understands far less about the new people than she does, not being able to conceive of evil at all. He is gentle, and in the end he wills himself to die.
Fa, Lok’s consort. Family relationships do not seem formalized among the people, but she and Lok regard themselves as Liku’s parents, even though it is never stated that she is their daughter. Fa has lost one baby but hopes to bear others; this is why she urges Lok to walk away from the catastrophe and start again. She has a priestess role; her pilgrimage to Oa as ice goddess is described. Only females are allowed access to the sacred: This is a main feature of the people’s gender roles. Informally, she provides emotional sustenance for Lok, and she hides from him the knowledge of Liku’s terrible death.
The old woman
The old woman, who...
(The entire section is 597 words.)