The main character in Erasure by Percival Everett is named Thelonius Ellison. He goes by the nickname "Monk." Ellison is a professor of English and a writer. He is also an African American. He is an educated man who writes about things such as Greek mythology. Unfortunately, his agent only wants him to write about the typical "black experience" of being poor and living in the ghetto of the inner city. Throughout the novel, Ellison struggles with writing the type of work that will be published rather than the type of educated work he wants to write.
Ellison has a sister named Lisa who is briefly introduced. She has a tense relationship with her brother. She works at a women's clinic. After the meeting he describes in his journal, she is murdered by an anti-abortion protestor at her work.
Ellison's mother Lorraine suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. She is the main reason why he allows his satirical work about an inner city youth growing up in the ghetto to be published. He needs the money to provide for her care in an assisted living facility.
While on vacation with his mother, Ellison meets a woman named Marilyn at the home of a professor he knows. He begins to date her.
Since Ellison's satirical novel is published within the book Erasure, there is a frame story, or a story within a story. The main character of his novel My Pafology is named Van Go Jenkins. This story within a story is about how Jenkins, a rapist, fathers many children and does not take care of them. He is eventually arrested for the rape of a woman named Penelope.
The character of Thelonious Ellison offers an object lesson in the difficulty of establishing an individual identity. Accused time and time again of being “not black enough” because he does not conform to popular cultural expectations, Ellison is the product of generations of education and economic privilege. Even as a child, he did not think, feel, or speak like his peers.
Like the nameless main...
(The entire section is 501 words.)