The Obscene Bird of Night Characters

José Donoso

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Humberto Peñaloza

Humberto Peñaloza (ewm-BEHR-toh pehn-yah-LOH-zah), also known as Mudito (mew-DEE-toh), or “Little Deaf Mute,” who has served as Don Jerónimo Azcoitía’s secretary, the Azcoitía family historian, and the overseer of Don Jerónimo’s estate, La Rinconada. In the process, he has worked for the family most of his life. As a youth, in an effort to “be someone,” Humberto imagines a fusion between his personality and that of Don Jerónimo. Living in the family’s home for the retired female servants of rich families as the novel opens, Humberto serves as the story’s schizophrenic narrator-protagonist. He takes on multiple identities (including that of a female, a large papier-mâché head, and a phallus) before becoming, ambiguously, a sexless and timeless bundle. At the close of the novel, after centuries, the bundle’s contents are emptied and tossed on a fire, leaving nothing of Humberto but “the black smudge the fire left on the stones.”

Don Jerónimo Azcoitía

Don Jerónimo Azcoitía (hehr-OH-nee-moh ahs-koy-TEE-ah), a powerful and influential politician for whom Humberto works and with whom Humberto has fused his own personality. The relationship between the two is strangely symbiotic, as virtually all of Humberto’s power...

(The entire section is 600 words.)