Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Zek, a husband and father to seven children, who may not all be his own because his wife had a long-term affair with his half brother Madou. Zek has always resented his half brother because he believed that their father, Malan, loved Madou and Madou’s mother (Malan’s first wife) more. His brother’s arrival in Rihata disturbs him, but once Madou promises to help him obtain a position as an embassy attaché, he hopes that this could be the beginning of a new life for them all. After Madou’s death, he feels a sense of guilt because much of his sadness derives from the fact that Madou can no longer help him obtain a better-paying position with the government.


Marie-Hélène, Zek’s wife. A native of Guadeloupe, she went to Africa with her husband in search of a sense of self, identity, and connection with her racial heritage that has eluded her. She is haunted by guilt over the suicide of her sister Delphine in France as well as her affair with Madou. She is extremely disenchanted with Rihata and its political and social corruption and oppression. She is also dissatisfied with her personal life and feels a sense of alienation and loneliness. Although she once thought Africa would give her a sense of rootedness, she still feels unconnected to her racial heritage.


Madou (MAH-dew), Zek’s brother. He negotiates on behalf of President Toumany with representatives from the government of the neighboring country in order to obtain their aid in moving his country toward self-sufficiency. He travels around Rihata in a Mercedes, which represents his power and affluence. He is married to Mwika (MWEE-kuh). He convinces himself, on his death bed, that he was a good husband to her...

(The entire section is 752 words.)