Jean Genet (zhah[n] zheh-NAY), a defensive, thirty-year-old Fontevrault “lifer” with repeated burglary convictions who sees himself as a character in a dream, a living skeleton, and a dead man irrevocably locked within the restrictions of prison life. In his inverted moral order, he covets infamous acts of brutality so that he can attain the spiritual heights of Harcamone, a rapist-murderer, and thus achieve his own death by decapitation as the epitome of beauty. The thin, lightly muscled, slow-moving narrator masks his fears by assuming an offensive, angry posture and consciously appears humorless to avoid losing control of himself through laughter. First entering Mettray for having stabbed out the eye of a child, Genet idolizes “big shots” who have descended further than he. At Fontevrault, Genet reveres both Harcamone, a God figure, and Bulkaen, the hand of God. The narrator’s violent, repressed desires find sexual outlets in his memories of thievery, his fantasies, his eruptive attacks, and his need to participate in other inmates’ orgasms.
Bulkaen (bewl-KA[N]), also known as Robert, Pierrot (pyeh-ROH), Jewel, and Rocky’s girl, a twenty-two-year-old, green-eyed, blond, tattooed Fontevrault inmate who is the immediate sexual and spiritual focus of the narrator’s longing. A proud, icy, vindictive thief who disguises the anguish of feeling abandoned with lies and manipulations, Bulkaen both inspires the narrator to passion and, according to Genet, shatters his life. Although he initiates contact, Pierrot contemptuously rejects the narrator’s first advances but eventually allows Genet to kiss him and becomes his “kid.” As the instrument of God, Bulkaen reveals the narrator’s fate. After his death, he is internalized by Genet as the priest who aids the narrator’s psychic support of Harcamone.
Harcamone (ahr-kah-MUH[N]), a rapist-murderer who escapes life imprisonment by severing the carotid artery of the...
(The entire section is 881 words.)