Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Adriana (ah-dree-AH-nah), a prostitute. She is a heroically proportioned woman, even at sixteen years of age. She first augments her income as a seamstress by working as an artist’s model; next, she tries to become a dancer. When her lover puts off marrying her, she easily drifts into prostitution because she likes men and the indolent life her new profession affords her. She becomes pregnant by a murderer but persuades a young anti-Fascist that the unborn child is his.


Gino (JEE-noh), Adriana’s first lover. He promises to marry Adriana, but she discovers that he already has a wife. As her lover, he is soft-spoken and gentle.


Astarita (ahs-tah-REE-tah), Adriana’s first customer, brought to her by her friend Gisella. He is a police official and is friendly to Adriana, even to keeping her lover Mino out of prison. Astarita is killed by Sonzogno in revenge for a slap.


Sonzogno (sohn-ZOHN-nyoh), a hoodlum. Adriana admires his strength, takes him as a lover, and becomes pregnant. Sonzogno, seeking revenge for a slap, seeks out Astarita at the ministry where he works and throws the man over a balcony to his death.


Mino (MEE-noh), a nineteen-year-old student and an anti-Fascist. He is a weak young man. When he is questioned by the police, he betrays his fellow conspirators and later commits suicide in remorse. He is convinced by Adriana that he is the father of her unborn child.


Gisella (jee-ZEHL-lah), Adriana’s friend and fellow prostitute. Gisella acts as procuress to start Adriana in her career.

Adriana’s mother

Adriana’s mother, a poor woman who sells her daughter’s physical charms as an artist’s model and then is bitterly angry when the girl accepts a lover. When Adriana’s prostitution brings in money and offers promise of an easy life, the mother is quite content.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Heiney, Donald. Three Italian Novelists. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968. Discusses Moravia’s change in technique in this novel, to a first-person, female, lower-class narrator. Also examines Moravia’s impatience with omniscient narration.

Lewis, R. W. B. “Eros and Existence.” In The Picaresque Saint. New York: Lippincott, 1959. Worth looking at for Lewis’ analysis of Moravia’s use of sexual encounters as proving-grounds of the existential.

Moravia, Alberto. “Interview with Alberto Moravia.” Interview by Ben Johnson and Maria de Dominiciis. The Paris Review, no. 6 (1955). Contains useful information regarding The Woman of Rome.

Moravia, Alberto. Man as End. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1966. Eighteen essays that provide invaluable information about the author’s philosophy and his approach to the novel as a literary form.

Ross, Joan, and Donald Freed. The Existentialism of Alberto Moravia. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1972. Good attempt to place Moravia’s writings in relation to his philosophical and literary tendency.