I’ll be discussing the different characters of the novel and their development throughout the story. First of all the general character development Farmer was implemented was very mysterious and elusive. She fed us information bit by bit- satisfying our want for character background, unanswered questions, and character depth- but not explaining too much too quickly to diminish our curiosity of the story and our investment in the characters. I’ve picked my three favorite characters form the book to discuss with you.
Matt is the protagonist of the novel- constantly dynamic and growing more round throughout the story. Matt’s character development fascinated me throughout the book, from start to finish. At the beginning of the novel during the exposition, we learn barely anything about him. As the story progresses we learn more about Matt and his purpose as heart-donor for El Patron. I found myself empathizing with Matt and his isolation/rejection, understanding how lonely and frustrating a situation like that can be and the toll it can take on someone mentally (his loss of speech, repetitive behavior). Matt learned to hate himself as a coping mechanism to deal with everyone treating him as scum, and again felt myself sympathizing with Matt. Matt’s dialogue often shone light on the fact that he had a lot of pent up emotions, and no way of releasing them (his behavior towards Tom). Although I’ve used this quote as evidence in a previous post, I’ll use it again to prove my point:
“… the Alacrans will have me put to sleep like an old dog. I’m a clone in case you’ve forgotten. I’m livestock.” (Page 366)
Throughout the novel I believed Maria’s character a metaphor for purity and innocence.
All of her actions throughout the novel were based on her personal moral, which differed so much from the other characters of the story. Her personal beliefs and thoughts about right and wrong were not as influenced by the society she grew up in as everyone else in the upper class (in Opium). She is relatively static throughout the novel, her views on Matt never being completely wavered by others’ opinion of Matt:
“I love you,” Matt said.
“I love you too,” Maria replied. “I know it’s a sin and I’ll probably go to hell for it.”
“If I have a soul, I’ll go with you,” Matt promised.
(Farmer, page 222)
I found Maria’s character very likable and relatable throughout the novel. I think I became more invested in her character than anyone else’s because I connected with her attitude, perspective, and reactions to scenarios presented throughout the book! Throughout the book she is a round character, we know most things about her from when she is first introduced except what happened to her mother, and that is explained further in the novel. Maria was, in simplicity, innocent.
To me, El Patron is the most intriguing and complex character of the novel. From his personality traits that evolved throughout his lifetime, to his impoverished upbringing and his rise to power, El Patron is the underlying mystery and menace of the story. I personally believe El Patron was a static character. Throughout the book, his mannerism did not change nor did his malicious and controlling behavior, not even after his demise:
“Listen to me,” said Celia. “El Patron had ruled his empire for 100 years. All that time he was adding to his dragon hoard and he wanted to be buried with it. Unfortunately-” Celia stopped and wiped her eyes- “Unfortunately that dragon hoard included people.” (Farmer pages 375-376)
I think as the story continues, more depth to his character is revealed and he becomes rounder. Though others may disagree, I don’t think El Patron is the antagonist. He just happens to be a very evil character that did very heinous things. During the time he was alive, he does not want to thwart Matt, he wants him to succeed (until he is needed as a heart donor for El Patron). After finishing the book, I tend to think that society is the antagonist of the novel. The society Farmer has implemented into the story has a blind prejudice and distaste for clones like Matt because of the idea of what clones should be (disgusting, uncivilized animals), and this and the limitations that come with it is what thwarts Matt throughout the book.