The Passion According to G. H. Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Author: Clarice Lispector

First published: A Paixão Segundo G. H., 1964 (English translation, 1988)

Genre: Novel

Locale: An apartment in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot: Epiphany

Time: The 1960's

G. H., a Brazilian woman identified only by her initials. G. H. narrates the story, which is largely concerned with recording her psychological reactions during a moment of self-reevaluation and turmoil. She is a middle-aged, middle-class amateur artist living in Rio de Janeiro who has enough income from investments to live well and amuse herself by sculpting. She has many friends and loves to go to parties, restaurants, and dance clubs, yet she has never formed any but shallow relationships. Although she has had a number of lovers, it seems that none of them has touched her deeply or established a long-term alliance with her. When she accidentally became pregnant, she hurried to have an abortion so that she would not be tied down. Nothing is told about her parents or early years, but it is hinted that she has had one lover in particular for whom she developed a profound affection; unfortunately, she was blind to her own feelings at the time. The novel focuses on G. H.'s thoughts one morning when she begins reconsidering the philosophical basis of her life. In the end, G. H. resolves to live in accordance with her newly enriched vision of the world, but it is left teasingly unclear whether, and how, she will keep her promise to herself.

Janair, G. H.'s maid, whose abrupt and unexplained departure leads G. H. to clean the servant's room and find that Janair has altered it in unusual ways, stripping it of all decorations except for primitive figures she has drawn in charcoal on the wall. Janair's name perhaps recalls the name of the city, Rio de Janeiro, where the action takes place.

The cockroach, an old insect that scares G. H. by coming out of Janair's wardrobe and is squashed to death; the incident sparks G. H.'s philosophical reflections.

The doctor, who performed G. H.'s abortion. The doctor temporarily becomes an addressee of her written record, but he is not further described.

The crying man, a former lover who also temporarily becomes G. H.'s addressee. In recalling a moment of silent communion between the two of them, she realizes that he was the one man she really loved. He is described only as he appeared in this incident, with none of his past or future relations with the narrator mentioned.

Categories: Characters