List of Characters

Narrator—thirty-five-year-old mixed-race man, father of three.

Claire—narrator's white wife.

Cecil, called "C"—narrator's oldest son.

Michael, called "Z"—narrator's second oldest son.

Edy, called "The Girl"—narrator's youngest child, his daughter.

Edith—Claire's mother.

Lila—narrator's mother.

Marshall—narrator's father.

Marco Andolini—narrator's friend who lets him stay at his house for the

Laura—Marco's wife.

James—Marco's son.

Maggie—Marco's mistress.

Marta—narrator's previous landlady.

Sally—narrator's girlfriend in high school.

Gavin—narrator's friend from high school, alcoholic, a poet.

Brian—narrator's friend from high school, dies in attack on the World Trade Center.

Donovan, called "Shaky"—narrator's friend from high school, black Jamaican writer
who is later diagnosed as a schizophrenic and lives on the streets.

Delilah Trent-Usher—black female artist who bumps into narrator and goes with
him for drinks. She is married to a white lawyer.

Johnny Little Nancyboy—man who gives narrator constructions jobs. Narrator had
worked with him before, when narrator was Johnny's boss.

Roman—site manager on narrator's first construction job.

Helena—young woman who pays narrator to build a sink in her bathroom.

Character Analysis

There is only one developed character in Man Gone Down—the narrator. Everyone else who appears in this novel is merely named by the narrator and seen through his eyes, often at a distance. The narrator's wife, Claire, and his children have a few lines of dialogue as do some of the narrator's friends and co-workers. But readers know very little of them, except through the narrator's experiences.

So who is this narrator? He is a handsome, intelligent, and large-sized mixed-race male who appears to have many gifts. He is good at carpentry; he is sensitive to his children's needs and to the needs of Claire, his wife. He is, if not an accomplished musician, one that draws people into his songs. He is charismatic although he feels awkward around people. He lacks confidence in himself; though when he focuses on a task that needs to be done, he completes that task successfully. He has been an alcoholic and recognizes his weakness in that area, but despite all the times he has drinks placed in front of him, he has the will power to meet the challenge and stay true to his commitment to never touch the stuff again. The contradictions he faces may be based on the fact that although he is multitalented, he does not know it.

Another reason that the narrator stumbles in spite of his skills could be that he feels a lot of pressure, real or imagined. His mother tells him that he is the light, meaning that she sees something in him—his potential—that could put him in a leadership role. People will follow him if he learns to stand up and make himself known, she tells him. Claire also sees this light. But the narrator does not. What he sees are his weaknesses. He believes his mother and his wife are only imagining his potential. This puts pressure on the narrator to be someone whom he feels he cannot be. He feels weighted down by their impressions of him. How can he lead others, save others, when he is having trouble leading and...

(The entire section is 811 words.)