Giovanni's Room
Giovanni's Room
by James Baldwin
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Giovanni's Room Characters

Meet the Cast

David

Master of Self-DeceptionDavid is, among other things, an unreliable narrator. Sometimes, when we think of unreliable narrators we think of people who aren't mentally stable (say Ed Norton in Fight...

Giovanni

The Man Who Wasn't ThereWhen thinking about Giovanni, it's important to remember that the story is narrated by David. So everything we know about Giovanni is what David thinks about Giovanni. When...

Hella

The Naïve Accomplice to David's Self-DeceptionHella is, in Giovanni's scathing terms, "the short-haired moon-faced little girl" who thinks that she is in love with David (2.4.192). She is a yo...

Jacques

Jacques is a wealthy older American businessman, born in Belgium, who enjoys entertaining younger men. He is the one who takes David to Guillaume's bar, and initially it is Jacques, not David, who...

Guillaume

Guillaume is the owner of a gay bar in Paris and a friend of Jacques. He saw Giovanni in a theater and was immediately taken with him. When they left, he transparently came up with an excuse to mak...

David's Father

After David's mother died, he was left with his father and his aunt. David's father would often come home drunk and, as David grew older, he realized that his father would often spend nights with v...

Joey

Joey was a friend of David's when he lived in Brooklyn. One summer the two of them went to Coney Island. They stayed at Joey's house, which was empty because his parents were away on vacation. They...

The Caretaker

The caretaker of David's house in the south of France is an old Italian woman who lost two of her three sons in the war. She lives with her husband and enjoys seeing the family of her one remaining...

Sue

After David receives a letter from Hella announcing that she will return to Paris, he walks down to Montparnasse looking for a girl to sleep with. He finds Sue, a wealthy girl from Philadelphia tha...

Aunt Ellen

Ellen is David's paternal aunt in Brooklyn. She moves in to help take care of him after his mother dies. She is a domineering moralizing presence in the house, and David does not have fond memories...

The Flaming Princess

David encounters the flaming princess in Guillaume's gay bar. He describes him in impersonal terms like "something walking after it had been put to death" (1.2.144). The flaming princess wants to k...

Madame Clothilde

Madame Clothilde works the café in Les Halles where Giovanni takes David, Jacques, and Guillaume. She adores Giovanni, and he introduces her to everyone. She is particularly taken with David....

Sailor from Nice

After Giovanni has been sentenced to death, David and Hella go the south of France. They get in a fight when Hella thinks that David is shutting her out, and that evening or soon after, he leaves h...

Yves

When Giovanni escorts Guillaume, Jacques, and David to a café in Les Halles, Jacques sets his sights on a tall, pale boy playing pinball at one of the machines. As David and Giovanni leave, Ja...

David's Mother

David's mother died when he was five years old, leaving David with his father and his father's sister, Ellen. David seems to have no memories of her, and he imagines her as a gross corpse that haun...