Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Captain Abraham Blackman

Captain Abraham Blackman, a powerful black man, about forty years old. He is a career soldier who is highly sensitive to the exploitation of black soldiers throughout America’s history. He teaches a seminar on black military history to the men in his command (C Company) in Vietnam, a command predominantly composed of African Americans, Puerto Ricans, and “crackers,” the detritus of the white world. He is very effective in uniting the allegiances of his men, particularly the black men, who do not seem fully aware of the injustices visited upon them during their tours of duty. While leading a patrol, an activity unusual for one of such high rank, Blackman draws enemy fire to protect the men in his squad and is severely wounded. He enters a dream state and relives a part of each conflict in which the United States has taken part, beginning with the Revolutionary War. Blackman gradually works his way up in rank through his imaginary experiences, beginning as a raw foot soldier in 1775 and finally appearing as a lieutenant in World War II; at the time he is wounded, he is in reality a captain but is promoted to major while he recuperates. Many of his current associates appear in these illusions, playing roles that correspond to their situations in his life. He also encounters historical figures and locations that probably played an important part in his history lessons. Blackman is not aware of his displacement in time during these illusions. He is highly cognizant of the inequities visited on the black soldiers by the whites and of their methods of maintaining control. These visions leads him to devise a comprehensive plan for a black coalition to conquer the white-dominated nation. In the dream at the close of the novel, the scope of his ideas apparently takes the complacent whites totally by surprise, and his plan succeeds.

Mimosa Rogers

Mimosa Rogers, Blackman’s girlfriend, a member of the U.S. Foreign Service, probably in her late twenties. His female counterpart, she is tall, very attractive, highly intelligent, and devoted to helping Blackman achieve his goals, which she shares. After he is wounded, she is fiercely protective of him. She appears in many of the historical time frames during Blackman’s dream; nearly every encounter is marked by an intense sexual experience.

Ishmael Whittman

Ishmael Whittman, Blackman’s principal antagonist, a blond, blue-eyed representative of the inferior white...

(The entire section is 1026 words.)