While David is the seeming protagonist and the first-person narrator in Giovanni’s Room, Giovanni shares the role of protagonist, is a sort of secondary protagonist. David cannot reconcile his own sexuality with his moral code. He early associates sex with death, as is seen in his dreams of his dead mother: “. . . she figured in my nightmares, blind with worms, her hair as dry as metal and brittle as a twig, straining to press me against her body; that body so putrescent, so sickening soft, that it opened, as I clawed and cried, into a breach so enormous as to swallow me alive.” David’s sexual experiences with women are overshadowed by this memory of his childhood nightmares. Having been reared by a virile father, David cannot accept the homosexuality that is an ingrained part of his nature.
Giovanni, on the other hand, has been married and has fathered a child. When the child died, Giovanni left Italy and came to Paris. Giovanni’s love for David is a pure and natural affection, but David cannot accept it as such, because to do so would be to accept his own homosexuality, which he has long been fighting.
Juxtaposed to David and Giovanni are Jacques and Guillaume. They are old homosexuals, unattractive men who pay young boys for their sexual favors. Knowing them makes David fear what he will become if he yields to his own homosexual nature.
Joey, the adolescent with whom David first had a sexual experience, is...
(The entire section is 472 words.)