The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The characters of Thoreaux’s fatalistic novel function within dystopian thematic constraints; not only do they fail to grow and develop as individuals, but they also devolve and diminish. Charlie, the thirteen-year old narrator, is actually smaller at the end of the novel. While he certainly evokes sympathy from the beginning (he is, after all, a child whose bully of a father never lets him go to school, watch television, or eat junk food), the feeling is not sustained. Although he exhibits some heroic moments, he ultimately proves disappointing because he continues placid for so long, defending and overlooking his father’s behavior time and time again. He continuously deludes himself into viewing Father through rose-tinted glasses, never asking for information. The warnings of three other characters about his father’s actions fall on deaf ears. Charlie exhibits the mentality of a victim caught in a web of ongoing abuse, barely managing to survive moment to moment. Ultimately, he embraces all that his father fought against.

Allie Fox, “Father,” a thwarted mechanical genius, always knows best. He rejects God because he finds Him imperfect. In his view, belief in and reliance upon God is the greatest vice. Self-sufficient people who practice good workmanship have no need to rely on God; they depend upon themselves and their own ingenuity. He forbids his children school, television, or food that is not completely nutritious. Allie, however, is...

(The entire section is 465 words.)

The Mosquito Coast Characters

Allie Fox (his name suggests the tenacious alley cat and the prophetic Allah), idiosyncratic inventor in his mid-thirties, wears a Hawaiian...

(The entire section is 934 words.)