Giovanni's Room


  • David, a blond American and the protagonist. His mother died when he was five years old.
  • Hella, David's girlfriend. They met in a bar in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. She is from Minneapolis and moved to Paris to study painting, until she threw in the towel and met David by serendipity. Throughout the novel David intends to marry her.
  • Giovanni, a young Italian man who left his village after his girlfriend gave birth to a dead child. He works as a waiter in Guillaume's gay bar. Giovanni is the titular character whose romantic relationship with David leads them to spend a large amount of the story in his apartment. Giovanni's room itself is very dirty with rotten potatoes and wine spilled across the place.
  • Jacques, an old American businessman, born in Belgium.
  • Guillaume, the owner of a gay bar in Paris.
  • The Flaming Princess, an older man who tells David inside the gay bar that Giovanni is very dangerous.
  • Madame Clothilde, the owner of the restaurant in Les Halles.
  • Pierre, a young man at the restaurant.
  • Yves, a tall, pockmarked young man playing the pinball machine in the restaurant.
  • The Caretaker in the South of France. She was born in Italy and moved to France as a child. Her husband's name is Mario; they lost all their money in the Second World War, and two of their three sons died. Their living son has a son, also named Mario.
  • Sue, a blonde girl from Philadelphia who comes from a rich family and with whom David has a brief and regretful sexual encounter.
  • David's father. His relationship with David is masked by artificial heartiness; he cannot bear to acknowledge that they are not close and he might have failed in raising his son. He married for the second time after David was grown but before the action in the novel takes place. Throughout the novel David's father sends David money to sustain himself in Paris and begs David to return to America.
  • Ellen, David's paternal aunt. She would read books and knit; at parties she would dress skimpily, with too much make-up on. She worried that David's father was an inappropriate influence on David's development.
  • Joey, a neighbor in Coney Island, Brooklyn. David's first same-sex experience was with him.
  • Beatrice, a woman David's father sees.
  • The Fairy, whom David met in the army, and who was later discharged for being gay.

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