The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Because of the unusual premise on which The Invention of Morel is based, the only fully developed character in the novel is the narrator. All the others are only shadowy images of a prior reality. Of the people that the narrator discovers on the island, the only one who is treated thoroughly enough to have what could be called a characterization is Morel, who becomes the narrator of his own document, the text of the speech that he delivers to the members of the group that he has brought to the island.

Because Faustine is only a sensorial image, the narrator’s attempts to interact with her are futile, for her actions are predetermined by the circumstances of her creation as an image. Her actions and her responses are all immutable and have no relationship to the narrative time of the novel. Thus, the only possibility for interaction between the narrator and Faustine is an artificial one. The narrator memorizes her actions, her words, and her reactions so that he may inject himself into the predetermined story as if he were a part of that unchangeable plot, as if her reactions were in response to his presence.

All the characters of the plot created by Morel’s invention are immutable and unresponsive to the narrator. The text of the novel, then, presents a set of personages whose characterizations are predetermined and one character—the narrator—whose attempts to understand the nature of the reality in which he finds himself form the plot of the novel. His final solution—creating from himself another immutable character in the plot of the story eternally reproduced by the machine—is a process of altering the aesthetic object, the novel of the projected images within the novel, so that the narrator becomes a part of that aesthetic object.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The narrator

The narrator, an insecure, paranoid fugitive from Caracas, Venezuela. He is the only real character in the novel, which is his quasi-philosophical diary, written on an island that he believes to be part of the Ellice, or Lagoon, Islands in the Central Pacific. He does not mention his crime(s) but does admit to having been condemned to life imprisonment, a sentence that he repeatedly characterizes as unjust. He believed the island to be deserted until the day he began the diary, when a group of approximately a dozen people appeared in what appeared to be abandoned buildings. He is afraid that they will discover him or, worse, that they have come in search of him, but he quickly realizes that they have no interest in him; in fact, he seems to be invisible to them. He becomes infatuated with one of the intruders, a French woman named Faustine. Eventually, he falls in love with her, despite the fact that he has never spoken to her and that she has no consciousness of his existence. He discovers that the intruders are the projections of a machine invented by Morel, the leader of the group. The machine is able to record a period of time in the lives of this group and then project it ad infinitum. The only drawback is that the individuals die after the period recorded by the machine. The narrator’s quest is to discover how to insert himself into the eternally recurring two-week period in which his beloved dwells. He discovers how to turn on the machines, and, after memorizing the sequence of events of the...

(The entire section is 633 words.)