Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Johannes Edvard Carlsson

Johannes Edvard Carlsson, the newly hired manager of Widow Flod’s farm. Short and stocky and in the prime of life, he is lively and assertive. He is also selfish, opportunistic, and philandering. His open and passionate—even flirtatious—nature makes him a convivial and optimistic fellow, prone to embellish the truth when it is to his advantage. His skill in overseeing land and people and his good luck cause several ingenious enterprises to flourish under him, despite his lack of a real business sense. The surrounding community enjoys the prosperity for which he is responsible, though even after his death they maintain a suspicion of him as an interloper. He is resourceful and a jack-of-all-trades; he knows agriculture, but his ignorance of fishing and hunting gains for him the scorn of his new stepson. He marries Widow Flod largely to acquire her wealth and land, and he dies through ignorance of how to survive in a storm at sea.

Anna Eva Flod

Anna Eva Flod, the widow who owns the farm and who becomes Carlsson’s wife. Mrs. Flod is a relatively old woman, widowed two years before the story begins. She has kind eyes and a face parched by wind, is envious of the youth and vitality of people around her, and likes to think of herself as still young enough to enjoy wedded bliss. She is easily flattered, falling prey to Carlsson’s trickery and emotional fervor. She is entrenched in the customs and mores of the little fishing community, taking seriously her role of hosting the haymaking festivities and carefully observing traditions at her wedding celebration. A pious woman, she loves her son deeply and looks out for his welfare. She has a...

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The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

For several summers in his early twenties, August Strindberg spent what was perhaps the happiest time of his life vacationing on Kymmendo, on the Stockholm archipelago. The novel, written quickly to make money, is in part a peaceful memory of island flora and fauna but more important an unsentimental chronicle of the bawdy, colorful, comic, and proud island inhabitants. It is naturalistic in its depiction of an individual’s unsuccessful struggle against life, and Strindberg seems uncharacteristically to side against the individual and with society. There are no large ideas here, only small, specific vignettes of real people leading uncomplicated and not very admirable lives.

Carlsson is an ambitious and clever entrepreneur, but he is also a rogue and an interloper. Unlike most of Strindberg’s main characters, he is free of inner conflict and psychological turmoil. He is so self-assured that he has an easy time convincing others to trust him. He is not maliciously manipulative but merely savvy enough to live by his wits. If he profits from the fruits of his economical ruses, so do the people of Hemso. While they never forget that he is an interloper, and at times hate him for it, they cannot deny that he has managed money and position well.

A drifter and jack-of-all-trades from the mainland, Carlsson may lack roots and nautical knowledge, but his good humor and survival skills allow him to adapt well to various situations and people. He is...

(The entire section is 552 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Gustafson, Alrick. “Strindberg and the Realistic Breakthrough,” in A History of Swedish Literature, 1961.

Johannesson, Eric O The Novels of August Strindberg: A Study in Theme and Structure, 1968..

Johannesson, Eric O. “The Problem of Identity in Strindberg’s Novels,” in Scandinavian Studies. XXXIV (February, 1962), pp. 1-35.

Paulson, Arvid. Foreword to The Natives of Hemso, 1965.

Tennant, P.F.D. Introduction to The People of Hemso, 1959.