What can be learned from the author's decision to name a character "Mitchell," given the nature of that character in The Wine of Astonishment?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mitchell is actually a rather interesting name in that it was originally a French family name derived from the Hebrew Michael, the meaning of which asks the question "Who resembles God?" Well, in The Wine of Astonishment, using "Mitchel" for a character who is a thief, loud, boastful, unscrupulous, dishonest and corrupt is either an almost painfully stroke of irony in that the answer implied in the name's meaning is "Not this guy!" Another possible reason for naming such a character Mitchel could be to representatively ask the reverse question "Is this what God resembles?" In either case, choosing the name Mitchel for this character embodies a great contrast between what is and what might be or should be or is expected to be, and the choice embodies a great ironic element that might prompt deep questions about the nature of humanity and God.