Although Harris’s characters stand out as individuals, he wanted to represent all the different types of people to be found in multiracial, multicultural Guyana. His characters therefore are also chosen to represent the population spectrum. The crew members fighting their way upriver in Palace of the Peacock represent most of the ethnic types to be found in Guyana, including a mysterious old Arawak Indian woman who symbolizes the original inhabitants of the land before the time of Columbus. Again Harris can be compared to William Faulkner, who sought to represent the entire South of the past and present in the panorama of characters he presented.
Harris does not limit himself to a single point of view or even to several points of view in his novels. He feels free to take readers inside any character’s mind to reveal what that character is thinking and feeling. This is sometimes confusing and occasionally threatens to destroy the illusion of reality.
Harris has often stated that he is not interested in portraying characters in the traditional manner most commonly associated with nineteenth century fiction. He does not confine himself to a particular time frame but feels free to go backward and forward in time, with sometimes confusing results. In The Far Journey of Oudin, both Oudin and Beti seem to be simultaneously taking two separate journeys at different stages of their lives. Harris enters his characters’ memories...
(The entire section is 502 words.)