Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 286
The characters of Monkeys by Susan Minot include members of the Vincent family. The first part of the story is narrated in first person by the second-oldest child, Sophie. Sophie provides a childlike perspective on the events that occur in the life of the Vincent family. The story, while categorized as a novel, is more like several short stories that have been combined. After Sophie’s narration, an unnamed third-person narrator takes over. This narrator offers a different perspective on the events that take place in the family’s life. The first of Sophie’s siblings mentioned in the book are Delilah and Caitlin. Their mother, Rosie, is a main character in the story but dies later on. The siblings’ father, Gus, is mentioned throughout the story as well.
Other characters in the story include Gus Jr. and Minnie, the youngest sibling, who is born from the relationship the mother has later in life with her friend William Kittredge, a bomb-maker. Another character mentioned later in the story is Sherman, who gets drunk in one of the scenes. Livia, the grandparents’ maid, is a rarely mentioned character. The children’s grandparents are included in one of the chapters, but they are not named in the story. The last of the characters mentioned in the book is Duer, Sophie’s boyfriend and one true love.
Monkeys is very complex, and each character has a unique perspective on the Vincents’ life. The story chronicles the mental tug-of-war between parents and the children. The characters are bold, vivacious, and inimitable. The Vincents represent a typical American family of the time; they struggle to understand love and acceptance, and ultimately each character must come to grips with their own identity.