Characters

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 229

Jealousy is a novel by Alain Robbe Grillet, a French author, written in 1957. The main characters of the novel are written in bold below:

Jealousy 's original title in French is "la jalousie," which is a play on words as it can be translated to either "jealousy" or "the...

(The entire section contains 1063 words.)

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Jealousy is a novel by Alain Robbe Grillet, a French author, written in 1957. The main characters of the novel are written in bold below:

Jealousy's original title in French is "la jalousie," which is a play on words as it can be translated to either "jealousy" or "the jealous window." This play on words refers to the fact that one of the main characters, a husband, spies on his wife through the blinds of a window, as he suspects she is having an affair. Readers might assume that this husband is the book's narrator. This is never confirmed however, as the narrator divulges very little about him or herself and in fact never even speaks in first person.

The focus of the narrator's tail is A..., the aforementioned wife who is the owner of a banana plantation in South America. A... is described as a beautiful woman who has developed a close friendship with her neighbor, Franck, also the owner of a banana plantation. While it is never confirmed, A...'s husband is suspicious that she is having an extramarital affair with Franck. The husband is suspicious of their friendship for a number of reasons, including the fact that Franck's wife, Christiane, does not accompany him on his visits to A...'s plantation. While the reader never meets Christiane at A...'s plantation, she is mentioned throughout the novel.

Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 447

The narrator

The narrator, a person unidentified as to age or sex. The narrator of this unusual novel never refers to himself in the first person and in fact is never specifically identified as a person at all. The narrator is probably, however, the owner of the plantation and A . . . ’s husband. The repetition of the scenes he describes is evidence that the narrator is obsessed with them. The scenes at the dinner table, for example, suggest that the narrator lives at the plantation, because these descriptions always specify the number of places set, and invariably there is one extra place, which can only be for the narrator. It is possible that the narrator believes that his wife is having an affair with their neighbor, Franck. In French, the title of the novel not only means “jealousy” but is also a pun on jalousies, or Venetian blinds, the shutters through which the narrator frequently views scenes, a suggestion that he is spying on his wife and neighbor but also an indication of the narrowness and limitation of the point of view he presents.

A . . .

A . . . , a beautiful, dark-haired woman who lives in a house on an isolated banana plantation. She is characterized by a few simple repeated actions and by descriptions of certain of her possessions. She reads a book and discusses it with Franck, makes drinks for Franck (and perhaps for her husband—there is always a third glass set out), sits down to dinner, and goes shopping with Franck. On one shopping trip, she and Franck spend the night away at a hotel, ostensibly because his car broke down. The empty and repetitive nature of this existence suggests in itself a reason for her possible infidelity. The only evidence that she commits adultery seems to be circumstantial.

Franck

Franck, the owner of the neighboring banana plantation. His wife, Christiane, no longer accompanies him on his visits to the other plantation, providing another cause for the narrator’s suspicions. He explains the overnight stay after the shopping trip by admitting that he is a poor mechanic, which may suggest symbolically his inadequacy as a lover, offering an explanation for the return of A . . . and also for the end of the narrator’s jealousy (and therefore the end of the narrative).

Christiane

Christiane, Franck’s wife. She never appears at the plantation that provides the setting for all the incidents of the novel. This restriction of setting may imply that the narrator lives there. She acts as a catalyst in the plot through her absences—caused by her susceptibility to the hot and humid climate—that help throw Franck and A . . . together more often and more intimately.

The Characters

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 387

While the description of the characters in The Erasers and The Voyeur was summary by traditional standards, it is all but nonexistent in Jealousy. In his critical articles, already mentioned, Robbe-Grillet states his belief that a change in the very nature of the protagonist is necessary if the novel is to be revitalized. Instead of the conventional hero with a name, face, and background, the new hero must be a simple il (“he” or “it”) and serve as the “subject of the action expressed by the verb.” Thus, information that would allow the reader to identify personally with the characters of the book should be absent from the work or at least reduced to a minimum. It seems obvious that Robbe-Grillet has reached his goal in writing Jealousy.

The narrator of the novel never speaks and is never spoken to in the way that normally occurs in novels. French grammar is so constructed that it is possible to identify the gender of unidentified speakers simply by checking the endings of adjectives. Thus a person who says “je suis fatigue” (I am tired) is male, while “je suis fatiguee” identifies a female. Yet this narrator is never quoted, nor do A... and Franck address the narrator directly; thus this person cannot be identified as to gender.

As for Franck, Robbe-Grillet tells the reader only that he has a wife and child (who never appear in the book), that he mistrusts native drivers, and that he eats like an American. That is, after cutting his meat, he shifts his fork from his left to his right hand.

Then there is A.... She has long legs, long hair, and green eyes, and is very efficient at running the house. As with some of the characters in The Erasers, there is a strong indication that she is not to be seen as a real person. Robbe-Grillet says that her eyes are very big, that she always keeps them as wide open as possible, and that she never blinks—no matter what the intensity of the light. He adds that they are in fact so big that one seems to see both of them at the same time, even when she is in profile. It would appear that the reader is faced with a mannequin or perhaps a painting by Pablo Picasso.

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