Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Zazie Lalochère

Zazie Lalochère (zah-ZEE lah-loh-SHEHR), a preteenage girl who is nasty, precocious, clever, and vulgar. She has come to Paris for the sole purpose of riding the subway. Unfortunately, the subway workers are on strike. Zazie spends her entire stay griping about life, causing havoc, and setting the people with whom she comes in contact at loggerheads, especially her uncle, Gabriel, whom she suspects of being a homosexual. When, finally, the subway resumes operation, Zazie is so exhausted from her escapades and partying that she misses the entire adventure, although her Paris weekend has nevertheless been a thrilling, eye-opening, and maturing experience.


Gabriel, who works under the stage name of Gabriella as a female impersonator and dancer in a gay nightclub. Tall and muscular, yet graceful, the thirty-two-year-old Gabriel considers his act art and himself an artist. Although he lacks sophistication, at times he waxes philosophical about life’s transience. Alternately severe and indulgent with his niece Zazie, he plays his part in the madcap and unbridled events of tourism gone wild by inviting friends, acquaintances, and a busload of foreigners to share in the Paris-by-night activities.


Trouscaillon (trews-ki-YOH[N]), also known as Pedro-Surplus, Bertin Poirée (pwah-RAY), and Haroun al-Rations,...

(The entire section is 628 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

In this novel, Queneau parodically categorizes character by gender. The female characters are stereotypically one-dimensional: They are motivated by their sexual drive. Zazie’s mother, Jeanne Lalochère, lusts for her male lover; the Widow lusts after Trouscaillon, and Zazie lusts for her jeans. The good Marceline, who does not seem to lust even for Gabriel, proves to be a man, not a woman. The male characters, on the other hand, are not lustful, but caring and responsible. They are better women than the women; they do not conform to any of the male stereotypes.

Zazie’s command of street lingo and sexual innuendo denotes a worldly experience not usually associated with an eleven-year-old child. Yet she is also a child who was attacked by her drunken father. She was saved by her mother’s intervention, ax in hand; her mother was carrying on with the pork butcher at the time. Zazie has saved all the newspaper clippings from her mother’s trial which mention her own name (her mother was acquitted of her husband’s murder and lauded in the tabloids), and she seems to see herself as starring in a film of her own. Her one basis for judging people is whether they move and talk as they do in the movies. At this age, Zazie’s extraordinary sexual curiosity can be satisfied by a pair of tight-fitting jeans. When she is older, she will be a Circean threat to men, like every other woman.

Gabriel—an allusion to the archangel—at age thirty-two...

(The entire section is 563 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bree, Germaine, and Margaret Guiton. An Age of Fiction: The French Novel from Gide to Camus, 1957.

Cobb, Richard. Raymond Queneau, 1976.

Le Sage, Laurent. Review in Saturday Review. XLIII (October 15, 1960), p. 25.

Redfern, W.D. Queneau: “Zazie dans le metro,” 1980.

Rexroth, Kenneth. Review in The Nation. CXCI (December 24, 1960), p. 507.