Characters

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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 518

The main characters in the novel Bel Canto by Ann Patchett are Roxane Coss, Katsumi Hosokawa, Gen Watanabe, Carmen, General Benjamin, Joachim Messner, and Simon Thibault.

Roxane Coss is a famous and renowned American opera singer, who is invited to sing at the Vice President's home. She is a demanding...

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The main characters in the novel Bel Canto by Ann Patchett are Roxane Coss, Katsumi Hosokawa, Gen Watanabe, Carmen, General Benjamin, Joachim Messner, and Simon Thibault.

Roxane Coss is a famous and renowned American opera singer, who is invited to sing at the Vice President's home. She is a demanding diva who only attends the party because of the money she will be paid to perform. She is invited to impress the guest of honour, Katsumi Hosokawa who is a huge fan of opera and a very wealthy president of an electronics company. He is invited for his birthday party, but he is really there in hopes that he will invest in the Latin American country (unnamed). The two fall in love for the duration of the novel despite being unable to communicate verbally because Hosokawa speaks Japanese and Coss speaks English.

Coss starts off with a standoff-ish attitude but throughout the novel becomes more down-to-earth and grows closer with the others who she originally thought were below her.

Hosokawa dies by gunshot wound at the end of the novel while the captives are being rescued by the government.

Gen Watanabe is Hosokawa's translator and is involved in most of the interactions in the novel because he is the only way for the other characters to communicate. He can speak many different languages and despite his role to speak for everyone else, he is quiet and sensitive. Years after the hostage ordeal is over, Watanabe marries Roxane Coss.

Carmen is one of the terrorists holding the guests hostage, and she asks Watanabe to tutor her in learning Spanish and English. At first she is in disguise as a male terrorist. Throughout the novel these two meet in secret so Carmen can learn, and eventually they fall in love through these secret meetings in the china closet. At the end of the novel Carmen is killed along with the other terrorists, despite Watanabe's intentions to save her.

General Benjamin is the leader of the terrorists, and he acts as a father figure for the rest of the terrorists. His history as a teacher and a father translate into the way he treats the other terrorists. He has shingles that are visible and obvious on his face. He is also killed at the end of the novel.

Joachim Messner comes into the house to help the government and the terrorists communicate and negotiate the situation. Appropriately, he is the neutral party and he is from Switzerland representing the Red Cross. He dresses smartly in a suit and tie.

Simon Thibault stands out as he is the most upset throughout the novel. Not necessarily for being held hostage, but instead because his wife and children had been let free at the beginning of the novel and he walks around crying into his wife's scarf until they are reunited at the end of the novel. He is the French ambassador of the country in which the novel is set, and cooks meals for both the hostages and the terrorists in the days that they are all stuck in the Vice President's home.

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