Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

The narrator

The narrator, who is unnamed though possibly identified with the author, because he is a writer and has had similar life experiences; that is, he had a fatherless, rather lonely childhood, living in poverty with his mother first in Great Falls, Montana, then later in Portland, Oregon, and Tacoma, Washington. In his late teens, he moves to San Francisco, which becomes the center of his life as a writer. A more spiritual element is provided by certain trout streams and lakes in the mountains to the north and east, such as Grider Creek, Graveyard Creek, Paradise Creek, Lake Josephus, and Hell-Diver Lake. The narrator tends to describe the people and settings in his brief collection of sketches with an inventive, sometimes even magical poetic surrealism. For example, the narrator recalls having seen, as a child, a distant, beautiful waterfall. As he draws closer to it, however, he sees that his vision was only a flight of white wooden stairs leading into some trees. Such disillusionment is an important element in the narrator’s worldview. He continually seeks escape from reality yet retains the integrity to be able to admit to doing so.

The narrator’s wife

The narrator’s wife, who is unnamed but usually referred to as “my woman” or “the woman I live with.” She corresponds to the author’s wife of this period (that is, his first wife), Virginia “Ginny” Adler. Little of the woman’s...

(The entire section is 541 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The unnamed narrator is the only significant character in this antinovel that mocks traditional approaches to characterization, and his...

(The entire section is 180 words.)