From the beginning of the novel, the narrator gains the reader’s sympathy because of his overwhelming loneliness. As a child of poor parents and a member of an ethnic minority, he is made to feel different from an early age. This difference is used by the author to create motivation in the narrator’s decision to become a hustler. Despite his attempts to display no emotion toward his clients and to kill compassion in himself, he displays an understanding of those who are different, so that people confide in him. Thus he becomes for the reader an emblem of hope for humanity in an inhumane world.
Mr. King feels guilty about his sexual orientation despite his bravado announcements to the contrary. He invites the reader’s pity because, much like the narrator, he pretends that he lacks compassion. This hard exterior is quickly exposed as a veneer designed to mask his devastating loneliness. He resembles most of the narrator’s clients; they are neurotic because of society’s rejection and persecution of their sexual orientation.
The Professor differs from Mr. King because of his intellect and command of language, which he uses to manipulate people. His failure, as it is communicated to the reader, is his inability to recognize true love. Despite his erudition and scholarly importance, he believes that he is unattractive and therefore compelled to pay for sex. The Professor, because of his sense of captivity in an inadequate body, fails to...
(The entire section is 563 words.)