Gaston (Gas) Bonaparte
Gaston (Gas) Bonaparte, a native of the Savoy region in France and a descendant of Emperor Napoleon I. Having failed to qualify as a missionary priest in France, he has followed an inner call to journey to Japan to act out some nebulous missionary role despite his limited knowledge of Japanese. A gigantic man resembling a sumo wrestler, he has a long, horselike face, with sad eyes. Despite his size and his obvious strength, he is a coward who will not even defend himself against an attacker. Moreover, he is both a simpleton and a bungler. He is a man of peace, love, and compassion who seeks to aid any creature he sees suffering from misfortune, oppression, or a physical handicap, whether it is a man, woman, or a dog; he is the “wonderful fool” of the novel’s title.
Takamori Higaki, a young bachelor and university graduate who works in a bank in the Otemachi district of Tokyo and is a former pen pal of Bonaparte. He lives in the residential district of Kyd in Setagaya Ward, quite removed from the heart of Tokyo, with his mother and younger sister, who, to his annoyance, is in the habit of “policing” him. Although he takes his position at the bank seriously, after work he likes to make merry with friends in the amusement district of the city. He is a spendthrift and always lacking in funds. When Bonaparte arrives in Japan, the Higakis invite him into their home as a...
(The entire section is 592 words.)