Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


House. Home of the novel’s anonymous narrator and his wife, who is identified only as “A . . . ” Located at the center of a series of squares or—boxes, the house is surrounded by other squares or partial boxes—a veranda, a garden, a courtyard, and the banana plantation, which encloses the house on all four sides of its square. The narrator-husband always remains in or close to his home. Readers see nothing that lies beyond his field of vision and are consequently at the mercy of the narrator’s judgments.

A road leads from the house to a highway, which in turn, leads to the home of Franck, who is apparently A . . . ’s lover. This road, which cuts through the boundaries around the narrator’s home, constitutes then a means of escape for A . . . and Franck, who make at least one trip to a port city, several hours away by car.

The story’s three major characters spend much of their time on a veranda that surrounds the house on three sides. The narrator notes that the chairs of Franck and A . . . are always very close together, which facilitates conversation—and conspiracy. On the other hand, the narrator-husband’s chair is at the other end of a semicircle—separated from those of the others by a cocktail table and the empty chair reserved for Franck’s always-absent wife, Christiane.

The narrator’s garden, courtyard, and plantation represent his desire to carve out a civilized domain in...

(The entire section is 574 words.)