The Farming of Bones

Character List

Amabelle DesirThe Farming of Bones is told through the voice of the young Haitian protagonist, Amabelle Desir. The meanings of her name, “lovely” and “desire” are fitting because they are telling of her amicable nature and her obvious desire to return home to Haiti. However, as the novel progresses the reader discovers that this young girl has both complex desires and definitions of love. With this, the reader depends on Amabelle’s acute observations to fully understand the context of the novel. As she struggles with her the memory of home, and the reality around her, we are astonished by the complexity of this character.

Sebastien – Sebastien is a young Haitian man who is in a romantic relationship with Amabelle. He is constantly yearning for narrative. He attempts to create this narrative by listening attentively to Amabelle’s dreams or having a burning desire to be home. The reader can sometimes sense a nihilistic air as Sebastien rejects his present home in the Dominican Republic. The only people who seem to put him at ease are the people from his home country.

Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo – Although the characters do not interact with the President of the Dominican Republic formally, he is an omnipresent figure. His presidency completely dictates the social dynamics of the Dominican Republic.

Kongo – The obvious symbol of Haiti and African roots in this novel. The stories which surround him, whether it be about his son contextualize the reality of working Haitians in the Dominican Republic, who are forced to the bottom of the social hierarchy.

Papi / Don Ignacio– Papi, is the kind man who finds Amabelle shortly after she is abandoned as a young girl. When Amabelle is not with Sebastien, her life is centered around Papi’s home and his relatives.

Senora Valencia – Senora Valencia is Papi’s daughter. Although Amabelle and Senora grow up as “sisters” there is an obvious difference between their respective realities.

Juana and Luis – Juana is a housemaid who has been tending to the Ignacio family for several years. Luis is Juana’s husband. The fact that they both just have a modicum of a voice in this novel is telling of the social hierarchy in the novel. Although they have more power that the working class Haitian, they are not seen as equivalent to people such as the Ignacios.

Don Gilbert and Dona Sabine – As a couple, they serve as an interesting binary to Juana and Luis. Don Gilbert is the owner of a rum company whose family first owned it on Haitian Soil. Through a land exchange, this land became Dominican land. Sabine is a cosmopolitan woman, who has traveled all around the world because of her former dance career. This couple is a symbol of the complex social hierarchy. Although they are originally Haitian, their wealth disguises this. In addition, they are symbolic of the fluidity between the border of these two countries which are made rigid by some characters in the novel.

Senor Pico Duarte – Pico is the epitome of the Trujillo supporters of this time. As a member of the military, he constantly evades anything which would be telling of his roots. Lastly, he is Senora Valencia’s husband.

The Twins – Senora Valencia and Pico give birth to twins. The birth of their children is symbolic because of the varying reactions the characters have towards the children. The twins are crucial because the reactions towards them are evidence of the racial climate during the time.

Beatriz – Beatriz is recognized as the “free spirit” in the novel (Keene). Beatriz symbolizes the modern young woman during the time of Trujillo who goes against the traditional structure.

Doctor Javier- Doctor Javier is representative of a sort of intellectual elite in the Dominican Republic. He speaks both Spanish and Creole. He is close to the Ignacio family and treats Amabelle kindly.

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