In the novel The Stars My Destination, author Alfred Bester tells a complex story of vengeance and redemption. As it opens, Gulliver Foyle (Gully) is the lone survivor aboard a derelict spacecraft called the Nomad. The Vorga, a starship owned by the Presteign clan, passes nearby but ignores Gully's signals for help. He becomes consumed with a desire for revenge on those aboard the Vorga who refused to help him.
Gully repairs the Nomad but is then captured by a cult on an asteroid. Before he escapes, they tattoo his face with the terrifying visage of a tiger. On Earth, he is captured by Presteign. However, realizing that there is a priceless treasure in a safe aboard the Nomad, Gully does not tell Presteign where the derelict spaceship is.
Presteign sends Gully to a notorious prison called the Gouffre Martel. In this future world, people are able to jaunt, or teleport, from one place to another, but they have to be able to see where they are to set their coordinates for travel. To prevent people from jaunting out of this prison, Gully and the other prisoners are kept in isolated cells far underground in caverns that are kept absolutely dark. This is where Gully meets Jisbella McQueen, whom he nicknames Jiz. Jisbella is in the women's wing of the prison and Gully is in the men's, but Jiz is able to make contact with him through the Whisper Line, an acoustical anomaly. Together, they plan and execute an escape, although it is revealed later in the novel that they were allowed to succeed by Saul Dagenham, whom Presteign hired to interrogate Gully.
Gully and Jiz take a small starship and travel to the wreckage of the Nomad to recover the ship's safe. Gully escapes with it, but Jiz is captured by Dagenham and later becomes his lover.
Jiz plays two key roles in Gully's emotional and spiritual growth. First of all, she becomes his lover and his partner, even though she comes to despise him. In doing this, she breaks him out of his intense loneliness and causes him to care for another person for the first time since his time aboard the wrecked Nomad.
Additionally, Jiz arranges for a surgeon to work on Gully's hideously disfigured tiger face. The surgeon is able to remove the tattoo marks from sight, but the procedure has left scars that appear as a flaming red tiger mask whenever Gully experiences extreme emotion. This forces Gully to learn to control himself, and extreme self-control, especially of his emotions, is crucial to his future plans.