Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
The narrator, unnamed and of unspecified gender. Significantly a professional translator, the narrator also acts as sole interpreter, through whose perspective all other characters and events are viewed. The character of the narrator is unfolded through revelations of his/her romantic and sexual exploits, which are relayed in retrospective meditations alternating among despair, cynicism, humorous self-mockery, and romantic lyricism. Although the narrator often is flippant and cynical in recalling past loves, the context within which these are related is a mournful, obsessive, and sincere account of the most recent and traumatically ended affair, with the adored Louise, who is later discovered to be dying of leukemia. The self-portrait is a mixture of romantic and sexual renegade with selfless and devoted lover. There are the other aspects of the narrator’s character implicit in the narrative, rather than self-acknowledged; among these less sympathetic qualities is the casualness with which former lovers are abandoned. The narrator admits to an addiction to passion and to dismissing comfortable or contented relationships, specifically marriage, as hypocritical and deadening.
Louise, the central focus of the narrator’s monologue, discussed or addressed in absentia. Revealed through this impassioned perspective, she is described as a pre-Raphaelite beauty with flaming red hair. The...
(The entire section is 575 words.)
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