Father Paul Laforgue
Father Paul Laforgue, a Jesuit priest and missionary to the Huron Indians. A slight, pale, thin-bearded intellectual, born and educated in France, he dreams of the glory of martyrdom in the wilderness. Fired by religious fervor, he learns the Algonkian and Huron languages and prepares meticulously for work among “the Savages.” Confronted with the realities of life among the Indians, he accepts his own misery and physical suffering with courage; he is forgiving of the sins of others but is haunted by guilt for his own human weaknesses. Initially secure in the correctness of his culture and religion, he comes to respect many of the Indian ways and to question his religious certitudes. A man of conscience, he refuses to acquiesce in the religious sophistry of Father Jerome and baptize Indians before they understand and accept the faith. Because his own faith is not absolute, he comes to see himself as unworthy of martyrdom. In the midst of his crisis of faith and unsure of God’s will, he dedicates himself to his work in hope of achieving “God’s” favor and out of compassion for the Indians as fellow human beings.
Daniel Davost, who accompanies Father Laforgue on his journey to Ihonatiria. Not yet twenty years old, he has been in New France for one year after having promised to serve God for two years in a distant land. Intelligent and adaptable, with a talent for languages, he is thought of highly by the priests. He wants to go with Laforgue not out of religious devotion, as he claims, but to continue the sexual relationship he has secretly begun with the Algonkin girl Annuka. Suffering feelings...
(The entire section is 689 words.)