Lovelace’s technique is to present his characters one after another in successive chapters, imposing upon each chapter the title of the role the character plays, both in the actual Carnival and in the life of the yard, itself a carnival. This role is crucial to an understanding of each character.
“Queen of the Band” may be a sufficiently appropriate title for Miss Cleothilda, who believes that her mulatto complexion and her fading beauty entitle her to be queen not only on Carnival day but throughout the year as well. “To her being queen was not really a masquerade at all, but the annual affirming of a genuine queenship that she accepted as hers,” Lovelace writes. The role assigned to Aldrick, though, falls far short of encompassing his total character.
As protagonist, Aldrick is the one character who is connected to everyone else on the Hill, as well as being the one character who undergoes a profound change in the course of the novel. Like Miss Cleothilda, Aldrick takes his Carnival role seriously, but unlike her, he knows that it lasts only two days of the year. While it lasts, however, the role becomes the means through which he asserts himself, through which he demands that “others see him, recognize his personhood, be warned of his dangerousness.”
Lovelace focuses on Aldrick’s attitude toward his skill and toward the significance of what he weaves into his costume in order to make a statement about Aldrick himself. The author invokes religious imagery to describe Aldrick’s attitude toward his dragon costume. He is “Aldrick the priest,” for “it was in a spirit of priesthood that Aldrick addressed his work.” Aldrick’s costume depicts the racial...
(The entire section is 700 words.)