Father Drumont, a bearded, middle-aged, archetypal Catholic missionary who founded and for twenty years nurtured the mission at Bomba. A stern but not humorless man, he is obsessed with sex and disillusioned by his failure to persuade Africans to follow church teachings on chastity and monogamy. Frustrated by the persistence of the traditional African social and religious practices that he sees on his tour of the Tala villages, he concludes eventually that he cannot successfully Christianize the Africans. At the end of the tour, he decides to return to France. By then, he is a wiser man but is dejected because he realizes that his work has functioned to soften and prepare the Africans for an exploitative and brutal colonial system.
Denis, the fourteen-year-old narrator and Drumont’s houseboy. He naïvely and ironically identifies with the Christian and European values of the missionary. Accompanying Drumont on a pastoral tour of the bush, he records, but rarely comprehends, the conversations and activities of the entourage and the villagers. Loving and admiring the priest more than his own father, Denis criticizes his fellow Africans for their failure to adhere to Christian principles and their lack of respect for Drumont. He is a sensitive and sweet adolescent who matures quickly as a result of the tour and his mentor’s realizations about the brutality of the colonial mission.
Zacharia, Drumont’s fun-loving, irreverent African cook. A realist, he uses his position to acquire wealth and sexual conquests. Indifferent to Christianity, he explicitly opposes Drumont’s views and explains the “reality”...
(The entire section is 701 words.)