The Woman Who Had Two Navels

The Woman Who Had Two Navels Character List

Pepe Monson

Pepe Monson is the novel's protagonist. The child of Filipino emigrants, Pepe lives in Hong Kong and works as a "horse doctor." When Connie visits him in distress over her purported two navels, he learns of the strange story of his friend Paco's relationship with Connie and her mother. Pepe listens to accounts from the characters who move between the Philippines and Hong Kong, concluding that they have all gone through "the mirror" and have become ghosts of themselves as a result. Pepe is engaged to Rita Lopez. He has a habit of betting on horse races.

Connie Escobar

Connie Escobar is a young newlywed woman from Manila. She tells people she has always had two navels, although her mother, the señora de Vidal, disputes the truth of her claim. After engaging in a tumultuous emotional affair with Paco Texeira in Manila, Connie travels to Hong Kong, purportedly following him. Connie brings plastic dolls as offerings to an idol with two navels in a Chinese temple. Paco describes Connie as evil, while Pepe suspects she is mentally ill. She is married to Macho Escobar and wears expensive, elegant clothing and jewelry.

The Señora de Vidal

The señora de Vidal is an elite Filipino woman who lives in a mansion in Manila. Connie is her daughter. The señora kindles a close friendship with Paco Texeira while he is in Manila. She is blunt when speaking and often surrounds herself with other high-society people. When listening to live music, she eats watermelon seeds instead of dancing. Paco describes her as evil, and says she conspires with her daughter rather than competing with her.

Rita Lopez

Rita Lopez is Pepe's fiancée. She lives separately from him in Hong Kong.

Tony Monson

Tony is Pepe's brother. Tony studies in a Roman Catholic seminary. Like Pepe, Tony grew up listening to romanticized stories of their father's home in Manila but eventually gave up on the dream and became more invested in his faith.

Doctor Monson

Doctor Monson is Pepe and Tony's father. After an idyllic childhood in Manila, Doctor Monson fought in the Philippine Revolution with General Aguinaldo and then with his guerrilla forces against the U.S. Monson is exiled to Hong Kong in the early 1900s, where he dreams of returning to an independent Philippines. After the Philippines gain independence in 1946, Monson travels alone to his homeland for a month. The trip leaves him disillusioned, reticent, fatigued, and prone to hallucination. He secretly takes dissociative drugs while living in the small Hong Kong apartment he shares with his sons.

Paco Texeira

Paco Texeira is a Filipino-Portuguese jazz bandleader who lives in Hong Kong. As a child, he becomes an expert on Filipino jazz by listening to Manila-based radio stations on a short-wave radio. During a six-month contract to play at clubs in Manila, Paco starts a friendship with the señora de Vidal. He pulls away from her when people insinuate that their relationship is romantic or sexual. He then develops unconsummated sexual desire for Connie, Vidal's daughter. He leaves Manila after three months, returning to his wife Mary and their children. Paco expresses a loss of will, telling Pepe that Connie and Vidal have an evil strangle-hold over him, and that he is destined to return to them when they call.

Mary Texeira

Mary is Paco's wife. She lives in Hong Kong and is of mixed Portuguese and Filipino descent. Athletic and down-to-earth, Mary has a sarcastic attitude toward her husband, who is often openly rude to her in front of Pepe. Pepe thinks of Paco and Mary as being so similar that they are like twins. Mary secretly meets with señora de Vidal to gather information about her relationship with Paco; the two women bond over Mary's watercolor paintings, two of which the señora purchases. She has children with Paco.

Pepe's Mother

Pepe's mother is a Filipina who lived in exile in Hong Kong. She dies before the events of the story begin.

Macho Escobar

Macho Escobar is Connie's husband. Connie tells the story of concealing the revelation of her two navels from him by leaving Manila on their wedding day and fleeing to Hong Kong, where she asks Pepe to perform an operation. Connie's mother's account differs from Connie's, as the señora claims Connie has already been married to Macho for a year. She also says that Macho has written letters in which he says there is nothing wrong between them.