The Sparrow Characters

The main characters in The Sparrow include Emilio Sandoz, Vincenzo Giuliani, and Sofia Mendes.

  • Emilio Sandoz is a Jesuit priest and linguist who becomes the sole survivor of the mission to Rakhat. His experiences on Rakhat shatter his once-powerful faith in God and leave him physically mutilated.
  • Vincenzo Giuliani is the Father General of the Society of Jesus and the director of Emilio’s hearings when Emilio returns to Earth.
  • Sofia Mendes is a developer of artificial intelligence programs and a member of the mission to Rakhat. Loved by both Emilio and Jimmy Quinn, the mission’s astronomer, she eventually marries Jimmy.


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Last Reviewed on May 1, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1296

Emilio Sandoz

Originally from La Perla slum in Puerto Rico, Emilio Sandoz is a Jesuit priest and accomplished linguist. He is the central character of the novel.

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Around friends, Emilio is both funny and thoughtful, always willing to join in witty banter. With children, he is gentle and charming. Several characters in the novel are attracted to Emilio, and he is described as having “exotic good looks.”

To those he is uncomfortable with, however, Emilio is stoic and mysterious. Vincenzo Giuliani initially describes Emilio as “a puzzling man”; John Candotti, meeting Emilio after his return to Earth, “could not imagine this man laughing.” It is not until later, when trust is gained, that Candotti sees the witty, relaxed side of Emilio.

Emilio is a deeply spiritual man, and his search for God is central to the book. It is Emilio who believes that God is calling the Jesuits to send a mission to Rakhat. Upon arriving on Rakhat and meeting the Runa, Emilio has an intense spiritual experience.

This spiritual high sets the stage for Emilio’s spiritual crash. The tragic ending to the Rakhat mission, and the brutal sexual violence Emilio is subjected to, shatters his faith in a loving God.

Vincenzo Giuliani

Vincenzo Giuliani is the Father General for the Society of Jesus at the time of Emilio’s return to Earth.

Giuliani struggles to understand Emilio but commits to patiently observing him in order to uncover what happened on Rakhat.

Although initially presented as manipulative, Giuliani proves to be an intuitive and compassionate leader. Despite some missteps, his decisions of whom to involve and how to proceed with the hearings allow Emilio to recover, to share what happened on Rakhat, and ultimately to move toward healing.

John Candotti

A priest from Chicago, John Candotti is a “bony, big-nosed, half-bald man” who “once waded into a street fight simply because he thought the odds were too lopsided.” It is this sense of compassion that draws Candotti to befriend the ostracized Emilio.

Candotti is able to make Emilio feel comfortable, and it is Candotti whom Emilio chooses as his confessor.

Johannes Voelker

Voelker is the Father General’s private secretary. He is described as “an unappealing man . . . efficient and intelligent but, atypically for a Jesuit, he had a polar mind: everything was black or white, sin or virtue, Us versus Them." During the hearings, Voelker is often harsh and accusatory with Emilio.

Although Candotti refers to Voelker as “a jerk,” even Voelker’s view of Emilio changes as the truth is revealed.

Edward Behr

Edward Behr is the Jesuit priest who is assigned to care for Emilio upon his return to Earth. Behr is adept at interacting with traumatized people; he realizes that Emilio requires “careful handling,” and he purposefully adopts “a sort of British butler persona.” It is Behr who is intimately familiar with Emilio’s physical injuries and night terrors. Behr is the one who frequently pursues Emilio when he flees the room, overwhelmed, and it is the loyal Behr who protects Emilio when reporters break into his room.

Felipe Reyes

Felipe Reyes grew up in La Perla slum and, as a child, was greatly...

(The entire section contains 1296 words.)

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