The Characters

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Fola Piggott, a strong heroine, has been compared by many critics to Bita Plant, featured in Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom (1933). Not quite eighteen years old when the novel opens, Fola changes from an obedient young girl to a rebellious, and then finally independent, young woman, paralleling the changes in San Cristobal during its emergence from colony to republic. Fola, through her attendance at the Ceremony of Souls, begins her backward glance at her own past and that of her culture. When she decides that she is Fola and “other than Fola,” she starts her exploration into her roots. “Other than Fola” is the name she privately gives herself in order to become an independent woman who is no longer bound by upper-middle-class values. Other than Fola is the person who longs to understand the past.

Her mother’s marriage to Piggott and her parents’ desire for upward mobility have provided her with a past based on British ruling-class standards. Her rejection of her family also signals her rejection of their values.

The two artist figures, Gort and Chiki, play important roles in the novel. Gort, a drummer, is a folk artist whose art is directly inspired by the peasant community of the Forest Reserve. Chiki, a painter, first provides a political perspective on the role of the artist in a changing society. By the end of the novel, both artist figures make the connection between art and politics, and both become artists who are...

(The entire section is 551 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Fola Piggott

Fola Piggott, a recent graduate of an exclusive girls’ college on the Caribbean island of San Cristobal. The beautiful eighteen-year-old mulatta is established in a well-to-do middle-class family. Initially, she is inquisitive and sincere but unsure of herself. In her attempt to link with her private and cultural past, she seeks knowledge of her unknown father. This quest leads her to form relations with the peasant community, embodied in a tract of land called the Forest Reserve. Her “backward glance” in affirmation of the past estranges her from her stepfather and mother’s set, who would “wipe out” much of their Afro-Caribbean ethnic roots. Having taken her stand with the Forest Reserve community, she becomes more determined and plans to become a teacher.


Chiki, a rebel artist and painter with a battered body; he is missing an ear. Thirty-one years old but looking much older, he serves as a mentor and guide to Fola as she seeks connections with her past. A son of the Forest Reserve who bought the land with money earned in the United States, he casts his lot with the peasant populace and with its resolve to retain natural ethnic cultural ties in a stance of truth.

Police Commissioner “Piggy” Piggott

Police Commissioner “Piggy” Piggott, Fola’s stepfather, an insecure official of Forest Reserve origins. “Made” by his wife’s urgings and promptings, he has risen from the low ranks of the colonial constabulary to a high position in independent San Cristobal. Attempting to escape the past, he is inspired by materialism and privilege. He is a prime agent of the attempt to suppress the steel drum bands. He loves his stepdaughter and is unable to have children of his own.

Agnes Piggott

Agnes Piggott, Fola’s mother, who lives a life of leisure. A proud beauty with a sharp tongue, married for twelve years to Piggy Piggott, she has been a steering force in her husband’s rise in the island’s political hierarchy. She is envious of Fola’s close relationlship with her stepfather; it is closer than that between Fola and Agnes. She claims that Fola’s natural father is dead; in fact, she does not know who he is because she had sexual relations with the bishop’s nephew, then was raped by Chiki’s brother.


Gort, a...

(The entire section is 981 words.)