Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 506
An unnamed newspaperman
An unnamed newspaperman, who serves as the narrator. It is probable that this character is the author himself. With a journalist’s sixth sense, he allows himself to become involved in the adventures of Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan. Against his better judgment, he helps them prepare to seize control of the kingdom of Kafiristan. With his books and maps, he provides them with the information they need. Three years later, when Carnehan returns more dead than alive, the narrator persuades the horribly crippled man to tell his fantastic story, although it exhausts his last bit of strength. Out of a spirit of charity and pity, the narrator arranges for Carnehan’s care, only to learn that his friend died two days after telling his tale of wonder and terror.
Peachey Carnehan, a vagabond adventurer who risks his life to become one of the rulers of Kafiristan, a mystical kingdom that supposedly forms part of Afghanistan. Although he is a big man, he involves the narrator in his scheme by persuasion and not by intimidation. Although committed to their plan, Carnehan is far more cautious than Dravot and is determined to remain true to their contract, which forbids consuming liquor or becoming involved with women. Seemingly more interested in the business of governing and the mystic nature of kingship than in personal gain, Carnehan is disturbed by his friend’s intoxication with power, but he never wavers in his loyalty to Dravot, despite the latter’s fatal mistakes. Carnehan is an opportunist who exploits both people and events. He plays repeatedly on the naïveté of his subjects and uses his knowledge of masonic rituals to help Dravot control the leaders of Kafiristan. He is also a brave man who endures not only physical pain but also excruciating mental torture on behalf of his associate. Against all odds, he makes his way back to the narrator so that he can tell his story to a sympathetic listener before he dies. Crippled by the people whom he sought to rule and whom he deceived, Carnehan never surrenders his spirit or ceases to scheme. Only death puts an end to his career.
Daniel Dravot, a dreamer and soldier of fortune, the companion of Carnehan and the mastermind behind their attempt to seize the tiny kingdom of Kafiristan. Physically intimidating, this red-bearded giant ignores all warnings in his effort to follow his dream of power and wealth. Using modern weapons, he imposes his will on the superstitious people of Kafiristan, and although he brings them peace and a modest prosperity, he does not hesitate to exploit them. Rich beyond his expectations and endowed with almost godlike power, he decides to break his contract with Carnehan by taking a wife. His subjects turn on Dravot, who proves himself to be a lustful human and not a deity. Attempting to escape his rebellious kingdom, Dravot is captured, but he is allowed to die like a monarch, proud and defiant to the end.
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