The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Pedro Archanjo, the quintessential self-made man, who, despite all racial and socioeconomic odds, fights for the rights of blacks and mestizos via his actions and publications, is one of Jorge Amado’s most vibrant, sympathetic, and humane male protagonists. In true Amado fashion, Archanjo personifies the mobilizing force of good and truthfulness over evil and falsity, an antinomy in concert with Brazil’s popular oral poetics as well as with the Marxist dialectic of the struggle of the oppressed against the oppressors. As a staunch advocate of miscegenation, individual freedom, popular culture, a natural code of honor, spontaneity, carnivalesque customs and habits, as well as the fantasy and magic inherent in African ritual and legend, Archanjo practices what he preaches. Thus, he contrasts markedly with the authoritarian and chauvinist figures of Professor Argolo and Police Chief Gordo, who represent self-aggrandizement and, respectively, bigotry and violence.

An authentic folk hero, Archanjo is portrayed as fallible at times, but in most instances he is larger than life, given his relentless commitment to racial equality and the expressed need for individual freedom, love, humanity, and truth. For these reasons, other characters serve to highlight Archanjo’s qualities and beliefs. Tadeu Canhoto, for example, Archanjo’s light-skinned illegitimate son, reflects the struggle for upward social mobility, while Rosa de Oxalá, Archanjo’s undying but never-realized love (because of his respect for his brotherly friend Lídio Corró, Rosa’s lover) attests his sense of honor. In another example, Major Damião de Souza, a mulatto self-made lawyer, represents the crusading force on behalf of the poor and the downtrodden blacks. While several characters are developed more than others in order to mirror Archanjo’s struggle, it is clear that Jorge Amado wants the reader to sympathize mostly with the protagonist since he champions the author’s thesis for racial democracy in Brazil.

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Pedro Archanjo

Pedro Archanjo (PEH-droh ahr-SHAHN-zhoh), a writer and self-taught anthropologist. A brilliant, light-brown, husky mulatto who loves good conversation, riotous celebration, women, and social justice, he earns his living as a runner at Bahia School of Medicine yet writes four insightful anthropological works about the beloved mulatto culture of his native Bahia. One highly controversial work traces the impurities in the aristocratic bloodlines, which infuriates the white supremacists. He is a font of virtue and humanity to the good, a thorn to the proud and hateful. His tremendous powers of observation and language earn for him the folk titles Ojuobá (oh-zhew-BAH) and Eyes of Xangô (shahng-OH), titles that imply the supernatural and magical. The 1868-1943 frame of the novel follows his fight against white supremacy, especially the promotion of miscegenation. The 1968-1969 frame relates the perverse whitewashing of his image when it becomes profitable to make the neglected writer a national hero.

Fausta Pena

Fausta Pena (FOWS-tah PEH-nah), a poet, the first-person narrator of the 1968-1969 frame. Fausta, with his beard, long hair, and blue jeans, prides himself on the nickname given him by the female poets—Wicked Cobra. When Ana Mercedes betrays him, he experiences severe doubts about his masculinity, literary significance, and political integrity. Fausta accepts a commission from Levenson to research Archanjo’s life. This research forms the basis for the 1868-1943 frame. He later realizes that the commission was merely a ruse to clear Levenson’s access to Ana Mercedes.

Nilo d’Ávila Argolo de Araújo

Nilo d’Ávila Argolo de Araújo (NEE-loh DAH-vee-lah AHR-goh-loh deh ah-

(The entire section is 845 words.)