Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Renée Néré

Renée Néré (reh-NAY nay-RAY), the narrator, a French mime and a dancer. Intelligent and largely self-aware, she divorced her husband after eight years of his adulteries and cruelties and has been struggling to support herself as a music hall performer in Paris for the past three years. She also was a writer but rationalizes that she can no longer afford the time for writing. She is still an attractive woman at thirty-three years of age but worries that she is losing her good looks. Her bitter marriage has made her determined to keep her independence, despite her sense of loneliness and thwarted sensuality, but when she is devotedly pursued by an admirer, Maxime, she succumbs to his lovemaking and agrees to become his mistress and even wife, after completing an already planned six-week tour of the provinces. She discovers, however, that her free identity and a desire to create with words mean more to her than attachment to any man and breaks with him to remain a vagabond and pursue a career.

Maxime Dufferein-Chautel

Maxime Dufferein-Chautel (mak-SEEM dew-feh-REH[N]-shoh-TEHL), Renée’s black-haired, long-lashed admirer, with tawny brown eyes and full red lips under his mustache. He is a wealthy, idle man-about-town whose mother runs the family estate in...

(The entire section is 569 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

The protagonist’s disastrous marriage, her inability to continue her writing career after her divorce, and the vicissitudes of life as a music-hall performer have all helped to shape her outlook. Deluded in love, feeling disappointed and deprived by her perception of herself as a failed writer, struggling to attain recognition in her present profession, Renéee is still an admirable rather than a pitiable woman. She faces the fact that the approach of her mid-thirties does not have the same meaning for her that Maxime’s similar age has. She knows, rather than fears, that his love will decline as her beauty fades. She does fear her sensuality, however, recognizing that it may betray her into making an impulsive decision that could lead her once again into misery. Yet the factor that seems to provide the greatest tension is her independent spirit, which pervades everything that she thinks, feels, does, and says. She is candid, sometimes even brusque, impartially sympathetic with her fellow artistes, even as she holds herself aloof from them. Tough, brave, sensitive, and forthright, she is the center of the novel, and all the other characters merely help to reveal her to the reader.

Brague, an insistent taskmaster, drives and cajoles and sometimes insults Renéee, but he also watches out for her and is tactfully reticent most of the time. Hamond, a gentle, affectionate, melancholy friend, who is himself disappointed in love, nevertheless hopes that...

(The entire section is 480 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

All of the central characters in The Vagabond were fashioned after people whom Colette knew. Renee Nere is Colette herself, although...

(The entire section is 290 words.)