The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Characters in the present time frame of the novel range in age from the fourteen-year-old Romen; to Junior Viviane, who is in her late teens; to the middle-aged Sandler and Vida Gibbons; to Christine and Heed, who are in their early seventies. There are obvious generational differences among the characters and their environments, but human nature does not change. Some characters have similar backgrounds despite being separated in age. These similarities aid readers’ interpretations, as individual stories mirror one another in part. Heed and Junior share similarly deprived and unloving childhoods, which they react to in the present. Heed and L think of Celestial, Bill’s mistress, when they look at Junior. Bill and Romen have similar attitudes toward what connotes masculinity, but Romen has a sensible grandfather in Sandler to give him advice. Christine, Heed, and Junior all feel unloved and unwanted despite their differences in class and education. Bill and Junior take lovers who are very young, with Junior thinking of Romen as a gift or toy.

Through various points of view the novel reveals that during the 1940’s and 1950’s, Cosey’s Hotel and Resort was an exciting, exclusive gathering place. Bill was its figurehead, while May, L, and later Heed took on the daily practicalities of running a successful business. Relationships between characters are fraught with tensions that are due to jealousy and misunderstandings, despite or because of the resort’s success.