The narrator, a shadowy figure who often seems to be following the other characters, though he never reveals more than that about himself.
Étienne Marcel (ay-TYEHN), a Parisian bank employee. Étienne is at first a one-dimensional character, but after being observed by Pierre Le Grand, he acquires three dimensions and begins to question things. He is a typical Parisian who works in the center of the city and returns every day by train to his house in the suburbs. He is married, has a son, and eats a disgusting meal every day in a cafeteria. This routine is broken after Pierre sees him nearly run over in front of a train station. Étienne then stops at a suburb, Blagny, where, in a café, he meets the other characters and becomes embroiled in the question of the treasure behind Old Taupe’s door. Étienne becomes a near-philosopher as he awakens to questions about the world (such as the reason for two rubber ducks swimming in a shop window), especially with the help of Pierre. At the novel’s end, he is drafted into the army when the French and Etruscans declare war on each other, leaving his wife to disappear and his son in the hands of the evil Bébé Toutout.
Pierre Le Grand
Pierre Le Grand, an observer and thinker. He is an enigmatic character who, upon being asked if he is a novelist, declares that he is a character. He is the only character conscious of Étienne’s transformations and may appear under other names in the novel, such as Pierre Troc. He is something of a philosophical midwife to Étienne in helping him to learn to think. He also is involved in the comic misunderstanding when people begin to...
(The entire section is 718 words.)