Characters

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Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 406

The Godwulf Manuscript is the first of a series and introduces Parker's series protagonist, Spenser, so in this novel he is not yet the fully-drawn character of the later books. Spenser is a single, emotionally unattached character, who likes to cook and has already developed a self-deprecating sense of himself,...

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The Godwulf Manuscript is the first of a series and introduces Parker's series protagonist, Spenser, so in this novel he is not yet the fully-drawn character of the later books. Spenser is a single, emotionally unattached character, who likes to cook and has already developed a self-deprecating sense of himself, but he is without either a Susan Silverman or a Hawk, who both will figure prominently in the later stories. He is more like the lonely P.I. of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe mysteries, the recognizably tough, wise-cracking nemesis of crime from the traditions of the detective novel. And this early Spenser drinks more, is more casually sexual, and philosophizes less than he will in the forthcoming adventures.

In The Godwulf Manuscript Parker also introduces a number of continuing character types, Lieutenant Martin Quirk, the best-dressed of Boston's finest, and his sidekick, the rumpled, ever-hungry Belson. Quirk's relationship with the P.I. is more antagonistic here, although it will change over the series, and Belson is already more accepting of Spenser and his methods. Joe Broz, the Boston Godfather of crime, retains much the same relationship with Spenser in the later novels as he does in this one.

Brenda Loring, the secretary to the university President Bradford W. Forbes, is Spenser's love interest in The Godwulf Manuscript and serves as an early version of Susan, but is seen only fleetingly. Although she appears again in the series, she is really a minor figure. President Forbes of the university is presented as a stuffy, self-important figure of power, a character type Parker will use again in other contexts. Carl Tower, the head of campus security, is a knowledgeable professional policeman with whom Spenser can more readily work, and he shares the same mild disdain for his boss which mirrors Spenser's own feelings. Terry Orchard is the daughter of a wealthy Boston family and is involved with the radical student organization suspected of stealing the manuscript for political purposes.

Like many other wealthy families in Parker's novels, the Orchards reflect the sins and waste of people with too much money and too little character. Terry represents another Parker character type, this time the young woman in trouble whom Spenser is called upon to rescue. Marion, her mother, is sexually repressed and bored; her father is weak and ineffectual. They both hide behind their wealth and social position, and they represent social types Parker will pillory again and again.

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