In Watermelon Sugar Characters
In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan has five major characters: the Narrator, Pauline, Margaret, Charley, and inBOIL.
The narrator, who of course narrates the story, is the main character. However, as the author goes into great detail to explain, this narrator does not have a name:
I guess you are kind of curious as to who I am, but I am one of those who do not have a regular name. My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.
The narrator has a very unique casual of talking and describes life on the commune iDEATH as follows:
the deeds were done and done again as my life is done in watermelon sugar. I will tell you about it because I am here and you are distant.
He is writing a book, the first book to be written on the commune for many years, and he is one of two people on the iDeath commune who likes to wander around at night. He later discovers that his girlfriend, Pauline, is the other one.
Pauline cooks for the community and often goes off with the narrator to make love.
We walked back to iDEATH, holding hands. Hands are very nice things, especially after they have travelled back from making love.
Margaret was the narrator's previous girlfriend. He stopped seeing her after she started hanging out with the rebellious inBOIL. InBOIL and his friends bleed to death when they decide to prove a point by cutting off their own body parts.
Much of the sense of disparity in the novel results from the incongruity inherent in the person of the narrator, who insists that everything in iDEATH is exactly as it should be—the people gentle, pleasant, and tolerant. Despite the narrator’s insistence that iDEATH is a stable Utopia, however, many of the things that happen are fraught with pain and violence. Balancing the easygoing and vegetarian people with their light chores and flower-filled parades are the man-eating tigers, the burning of the mutilated corpses of inBOIL and his gang, Margaret’s suicide, and the emptiness felt by the narrator but never named.
Indeed, the narrator never really names anything, even himself. In chapter 3, the narrator invites the reader to do the naming: “My name depends on you. Just call me whatever is in your mind.” Though the narrator clearly plays the role of poet-seer, he came upon his vocation by accident. He was not good at anything else, though he had tried several occupations. It is Charley who suggests that the narrator write a book. Margaret’s excursions into “The Forgotten Works” disturb the narrator so greatly that he cannot cope with his feelings for her. Nor is the narrator’s restlessness assuaged by his liaison with Pauline. He remains an insomniac and nightwalker throughout the novel. Thor’s day is his favorite—black, silent, and long.
Margaret is the only character in the novel who exhibits what one would normally call the signs of an active and curious mind. Her visits to “The Forgotten Works” and her continuing conversations with inBOIL, however, cause the community to isolate her and the narrator to shun her. Only Pauline seems to wonder how Margaret is responding to the loss of a long-standing relationship with the narrator and her alienation from the community. The narrator expresses no interest and refuses to discuss the matter beyond saying that everything will be alright. Yet Margaret’s desolation and hurt are apparent. She returns to the narrator’s shack, knocking at his door with a persistence that bothers him; she walks past Pauline without responding to her greeting. Only Margaret seems shocked and pained by the death of inBOIL and his gang, and only she seems to understand its significance. Her suicide, which she accomplishes by hanging herself from an apple tree, clearly results from a sense of profound despair over the community’s inability to recognize what inBOIL was trying to say by means of his immolation and over the community’s and the narrator’s total rejection of her.
InBOIL and Charley, the community’s acknowledged leader,...
(The entire section is 1,489 words.)