The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Concerned as it is with the eternal repetition and transformation of mythical archetypes through the telling of tales, Holy Place offers a little in the way of traditional, mimetic characterization. As Guillermo narrates, his narcissistic and Oedipal complexes are so much in the foreground that one can grant little credence to his portrayal of others. Both secondary characters, Bela and Giancarlo, are patent reductions, she the stereotype of the opportunistic temptress and he of the dark Latin lover. Whether Guillermo sees them as such or wants his reader or listener to think so is never clarified. Although treated at much greater length, moreover, Claudia, too, is nothing more than a glossy veneer. Guillermo tries to read depth and substance into her masks, but to judge by her reported words and actions, she has only the depth of a celluloid image. The aging but still attractive star is more interested in advancing her career and tasting the spoils of her success than in understanding her obviously disturbed son. She is a myth in the sense of commercial media hype. Perhaps her perceived hollowness resides in the fact that, despite her fame as an actress (and despite her incessant role-playing), she is never shown acting professionally. Furthermore, even though Guillermo’s demands are unreasonable and even impossible to meet, she proves to be no more adept as a mother than as an actress.

Only Guillermo’s desultory and sporadic monologue...

(The entire section is 469 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Guillermo “Mito” Nervo

Guillermo “Mito” Nervo (gee-YEHR-moh MEE-toh NEHR-voh), the narrator, the son of Claudia Nervo, a famous Mexican film star. He is a lanky young man with black eyes, olive skin, and blond hair whose descent into madness is centered on his obsession with his mother and his incestuous desire for her. Kidnapped by Claudia while living with his father and grandmother, he spent his adolescence in boarding schools. Although loved by his mother, he is alternately pushed away from and pulled toward her, based on her whims. While attending a boarding school in Switzerland, he meets Giancarlo, a young man he greatly admires and who tries to seduce him. Guillermo, or “Mito,” a diminutive used by Claudia, is a parasite whose physical, mental, and financial existence is dependent on his mother. Guillermo takes Bela as a lover to make Claudia jealous and as a substitute to satisfy his sexual desire for his mother. When Claudia takes Giancarlo as her lover, Guillermo’s sanity completely unravels. He enters a sanatorium in Rome. After being released, he returns to Mexico. At the end, Guillermo has been transformed into an abused dog and watches his servants destroy his apartment, one of his “holy places,” while fantasizing about tearing Claudia and Giancarlo apart.

Claudia Nervo

Claudia Nervo, a famous...

(The entire section is 532 words.)