A Confederacy of Dunces
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"A Confederacy of Dunces" Characters Analysis

By John Kennedy Toole

fiction | 374 pages | Published in 2019

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World' 'My favourite book of all time... it stays with you long after you have read it - for your whole life, in fact' Billy Connolly A monument to sloth, rant and contempt, a behemoth of fat, flatulence and furious suspicion of anything modern - this is Ignatius J. Reilly of New Orleans, noble crusader against a world of dunces. The ordinary folk of New Orleans seem to think he is unhinged. Ignatius ignores them, heaving his vast bulk through the city's fleshpots in a noble crusade against vice, modernity and ignorance. But his momma has a nasty surprise in store for him: Ignatius must get a job. Undaunted, he uses his new-found employment to further his mission - and now he has a pirate costume and a hot-dog cart to do it with... Never published during his lifetime, John Kennedy Toole's hilarious satire, A Confederacy of Dunces is a Don Quixote for the modern age, and this Penguin Modern Classics edition includes a foreword by Walker Percy. 'A pungent work of slapstick, satire and intellectual incongruities ... it is nothing less than a grand comic fugue' The New York Times

ISBN_13:9780141991436
ISBN_10:0141991437

Estimated read time: 13 min read

Table of Contents

  1. List of Characters

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Ignatius J. ReillyProtagonist, Antihero
Myrna MinkoffIgnatius' love interest
Irene ReillyIgnatius' mother
Santa BattagliaIgnatius' employer
Patrolman MancusoPolice officer
Burma JonesIgnatius' co-worker
Lana LeeOwner of the Night of Joy bar
Dorian GreeneIgnatius' eccentric friend
Claude RobichauxIgnatius' former professor
Mr. LevyOwner of Levy Pants

Role Identification

In "A Confederacy of Dunces," John Kennedy Toole presents a diverse cast of characters who play crucial roles in shaping the narrative and exploring the themes of the novel. At the center of the story is Ignatius J. Reilly, the eccentric and larger-than-life protagonist. Surrounding Ignatius are characters such as Myrna Minkoff, Irene Reilly, Santa Battaglia, Patrolman Mancuso, Burma Jones, Lana Lee, Dorian Greene, Claude Robichaux, and Mr. Levy. Each character contributes to the development of the plot, highlighting various aspects of Ignatius' personality and impacting his journey.

Character Descriptions

Ignatius J. Reilly

Ignatius J. Reilly stands as the complex and comical protagonist of the story. He is a larger-than-life figure, both physically and intellectually, with his massive frame and his disdain for modern society. Ignatius is a self-proclaimed intellectual, spending his time writing his magnum opus and criticizing the world around him. He dresses in outdated clothing, including his trademark green hunting cap and his voluminous tweed suit. Ignatius' appearance reflects his resistance to change and his desire to cling to the past.

Myrna Minkoff

Myrna Minkoff is Ignatius' on-again, off-again love interest. She is a fiercely independent and outspoken character who challenges Ignatius' views on society and politics. Myrna is a college student and a political activist, often engaging in heated debates with Ignatius about her progressive ideas. Despite their differences, Myrna shares a deep connection with Ignatius, both intellectually and emotionally.

Irene Reilly

Irene Reilly is Ignatius' mother, a kind-hearted and long-suffering woman who supports her son despite his eccentricities. She works as a dressmaker and strives to maintain a stable household amidst Ignatius' chaotic presence. Irene's love for Ignatius is unconditional, and she serves as a source of both comic relief and emotional depth throughout the novel.

Santa Battaglia

Santa Battaglia is Ignatius' employer at the Levy Pants factory. He is a hard-nosed and no-nonsense businessman who clashes with Ignatius' lazy and unorthodox work habits. Santa's frustration and attempts to discipline Ignatius add to the comedic tension within the story.

Patrolman Mancuso

Patrolman Mancuso is a police officer who becomes entangled in Ignatius' misadventures. He is initially suspicious of Ignatius but eventually develops a reluctant admiration for his unique perspective on life. Mancuso's interactions with Ignatius highlight the clash between law enforcement and unconventional individuals.

Burma Jones

Burma Jones is Ignatius' co-worker at the Levy Pants factory. He is an African-American man who becomes an unexpected ally to Ignatius. Burma's character sheds light on the racial dynamics of the time and explores the theme of unlikely friendships.

Lana Lee

Lana Lee is the vibrant and entrepreneurial owner of the Night of Joy bar, where Ignatius finds employment. She is a no-nonsense businesswoman who clashes with Ignatius' grandiose ideas and laziness. Lana's character provides a strong contrast to Ignatius' eccentricities and showcases the struggles of running a small business.

Dorian Greene

Dorian Greene is Ignatius' eccentric friend and confidant. He is a flamboyant former actor who shares Ignatius' disdain for modern society. Dorian encourages Ignatius' outlandish behavior and serves as a foil to his character, amplifying his larger-than-life personality.

Claude Robichaux

Claude Robichaux is Ignatius' former professor, who now teaches at a local university. He is a melancholic and disillusioned character who serves as a reflection of Ignatius' own intellectual pursuits. Claude's interactions with Ignatius shed light on the theme of unfulfilled potential and the consequences of clinging to outdated beliefs.

Mr. Levy

Mr. Levy is the owner of Levy Pants, where Ignatius and Burma work. He represents the capitalist system and embodies the struggles of small businesses in the face of changing times. Mr. Levy's character highlights the clash between traditional values and the modern world.

Character Traits

Character NameTraits
Ignatius J. ReillyEccentric, lazy, intelligent, arrogant, nostalgic
Myrna MinkoffIndependent, progressive, intelligent, argumentative
Irene ReillyCaring, patient, hardworking, supportive
Santa BattagliaStern, hard-nosed, disciplined, traditional
Patrolman MancusoSuspicious, curious, adaptive, conflicted
Burma JonesLoyal, hardworking, pragmatic, observant
Lana LeeAssertive, practical, shrewd, no-nonsense
Dorian GreeneFlamboyant, theatrical, carefree, unconventional
Claude RobichauxMelancholic, disillusioned, introspective, reserved
Mr. LevyShrewd, traditional, business-minded, struggling

Character Background

Ignatius J. Reilly

Ignatius J. Reilly is a 30-year-old man living in New Orleans with his mother. He has a unique background, having been raised by a single mother and heavily influenced by his experiences as a student. Ignatius' intelligence and education are evident, but his lack of ambition and disdain for modern society stem from a mixture of entitlement, disappointment, and a desire for the comfort of the past.

Myrna Minkoff

Myrna Minkoff is a college student and political activist. She comes from a more privileged background than Ignatius and is driven by her progressive ideals and a desire for social change. Myrna's privileged upbringing and exposure to a broader world have shaped her views and fueled her passion for challenging the status quo.

Irene Reilly

Irene Reilly is a hardworking dressmaker and the long-suffering mother of Ignatius. She has dedicated her life to providing for her son and maintaining a stable household. Irene's background is rooted in the working-class environment of New Orleans, and her love for Ignatius is unwavering despite his eccentricities.

Santa Battaglia

Santa Battaglia is a self-made businessman who owns the Levy Pants factory. He comes from an Italian immigrant background and has worked hard to establish his business. Santa's background reflects the challenges faced by immigrants in America and their efforts to succeed in a new country.

Patrolman Mancuso

Patrolman Mancuso is a police officer who represents the law enforcement system. His background is not extensively explored in the novel, but his role as a police officer suggests a desire to maintain order and uphold the law in a changing society.

Burma Jones

Burma Jones is an African-American worker at the Levy Pants factory. His background reflects the experiences of Black Americans in the segregated South. Burma's character highlights the racial dynamics of the time and the challenges faced by marginalized communities.

Lana Lee

Lana Lee is a savvy businesswoman who owns the Night of Joy bar. Her background is not explicitly outlined in the novel, but her entrepreneurial spirit and resilience suggest a history of overcoming challenges and navigating the competitive business world.

Dorian Greene

Dorian Greene is a former actor and Ignatius' eccentric friend. His background as a performer adds a touch of theatricality to his character. Dorian's background and motivations are not extensively explored, but his carefree and unconventional nature suggest a desire to escape the constraints of societal expectations.

Claude Robichaux

Claude Robichaux is a former professor turned disillusioned educator. His background is rooted in academia, with his current role as a teacher at a local university reflecting his passion for intellectual pursuits. Claude's character embodies the disappointment and unfulfilled potential that can arise from clinging to outdated beliefs.

Mr. Levy

Mr. Levy is the owner of Levy Pants and represents the struggles faced by small business owners. His background is not explicitly detailed in the novel, but his role reflects the challenges of navigating the competitive business world and the changing economic landscape.

Character Arcs

Ignatius J. Reilly

Ignatius J. Reilly undergoes a significant character arc throughout the novel. Initially, he is a lazy and arrogant individual who believes himself to be intellectually superior to the world around him. However, as the story progresses, Ignatius faces various challenges and setbacks that force him to confront his own flaws and adapt to his surroundings. Ultimately, Ignatius experiences personal growth and begins to recognize the value of human connection and the need for personal responsibility.

Myrna Minkoff

Myrna Minkoff's character arc revolves around her relationship with Ignatius. At the beginning of the novel, she is presented as a passionate and independent activist who clashes with Ignatius' conservative views. However, as the story unfolds, Myrna's interactions with Ignatius lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other's perspectives. Through her relationship with Ignatius, Myrna learns to navigate the complexities of love and intellectual differences.

Irene Reilly

Irene Reilly's character arc revolves around her unwavering love and support for Ignatius. Throughout the novel, Irene remains a constant presence in Ignatius' life, providing both comic relief and emotional depth. Her character arc emphasizes the strength of a mother's love and her willingness to stand by her son despite his flaws.

Santa Battaglia

Santa Battaglia's character arc is primarily defined by his interactions with Ignatius. Initially frustrated by Ignatius' laziness and unconventional behavior, Santa gradually develops a begrudging respect for his unique perspective on life. Santa's character arc highlights the potential for personal growth and understanding through unexpected connections.

Patrolman Mancuso

Patrolman Mancuso's character arc revolves around his interactions with Ignatius and his evolving perception of him. Initially suspicious of Ignatius, Mancuso gradually becomes intrigued by his eccentricities and perspective. Through his encounters with Ignatius, Mancuso's character arc explores themes of curiosity, adaptability, and the potential for personal transformation.

Burma Jones

Burma Jones' character arc is closely tied to his relationship with Ignatius. Initially, he is a reluctant co-worker who finds himself drawn into Ignatius' misadventures. However, as the story progresses, Burma's loyalty and pragmatism are tested, leading to personal growth and a deeper understanding of friendship.

Lana Lee

Lana Lee's character arc primarily revolves around her interactions with Ignatius and her experiences as a small business owner. As the owner of the Night of Joy bar, Lana faces numerous challenges, including Ignatius' laziness and grandiose ideas. Through her interactions with Ignatius, Lana's character arc explores themes of resilience, adaptability, and the pursuit of success in a competitive environment.

Dorian Greene

Dorian Greene's character arc is less pronounced than others in the novel, as he serves as a catalyst for Ignatius' eccentricities. However, Dorian's carefree and unconventional nature highlight the potential for personal liberation and the pursuit of individual happiness.

Claude Robichaux

Claude Robichaux's character arc revolves around his disillusionment with academia and his interactions with Ignatius. As a former professor turned disillusioned educator, Claude's character arc explores themes of unfulfilled potential, the consequences of clinging to outdated beliefs, and the search for personal fulfillment.

Mr. Levy

Mr. Levy's character arc is primarily defined by the struggles faced by small business owners in a changing economic landscape. As the owner of Levy Pants, Mr. Levy represents the challenges of maintaining a successful business and adapting to the demands of a modern society.

Relationships

Ignatius J. Reilly and Myrna Minkoff

Ignatius' relationship with Myrna Minkoff is characterized by their intellectual clashes and shared history. Despite their differences, Ignatius and Myrna share a deep connection and serve as foils to each other's beliefs and values. Their relationship explores themes of love, intellectual differences, and the potential for personal growth through understanding.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Irene Reilly

Ignatius' relationship with his mother, Irene, is characterized by her unwavering love and support. Irene serves as a stable presence in Ignatius' life, providing both comic relief and emotional depth. Their relationship highlights the complex dynamics between a mother and her eccentric son, emphasizing the strength of familial bonds.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Santa Battaglia

Ignatius' relationship with his employer, Santa Battaglia, is one of constant friction. Santa represents the traditional business world and clashes with Ignatius' laziness and unorthodox work habits. Their relationship showcases the tension between an individual's refusal to conform and the demands of the modern workplace.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Patrolman Mancuso

Ignatius' relationship with Patrolman Mancuso is characterized by curiosity and intrigue. Initially suspicious of Ignatius, Mancuso becomes fascinated by his eccentricities and unique perspective. Their relationship explores themes of personal growth, adaptability, and the potential for unexpected connections.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Burma Jones

Ignatius' relationship with Burma Jones is one of unlikely friendship and mutual reliance. Initially reluctant co-workers, Ignatius and Burma find themselves drawn into each other's lives. Their relationship highlights the potential for personal growth and understanding through unexpected connections.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Lana Lee

Ignatius' relationship with Lana Lee, the owner of the Night of Joy bar, is characterized by their conflicting personalities and goals. Lana clashes with Ignatius' grandiose ideas and laziness, highlighting the challenges faced by small business owners. Their relationship explores themes of resilience, adaptability, and the pursuit of success.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Dorian Greene

Ignatius' relationship with Dorian Greene is characterized by their shared disdain for modern society. Dorian serves as a catalyst for Ignatius' eccentricities, encouraging his outlandish behavior. Their relationship showcases the potential for personal liberation and the pursuit of individual happiness.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Claude Robichaux

Ignatius' relationship with his former professor, Claude Robichaux, is characterized by their shared disillusionment and intellectual pursuits. Claude serves as a reflection of Ignatius' own unfulfilled potential and the consequences of clinging to outdated beliefs. Their relationship explores themes of personal growth, the search for meaning, and the pursuit of personal fulfillment.

Ignatius J. Reilly and Mr. Levy

Ignatius' relationship with Mr. Levy, the owner of Levy Pants, is characterized by the challenges faced by small business owners. Ignatius' laziness and unorthodox work habits add to Mr. Levy's struggles in maintaining a successful business. Their relationship highlights the tension between traditional values and the demands of a changing economic landscape.

In "A Confederacy of Dunces," John Kennedy Toole has crafted a diverse cast of characters who contribute to the eccentric and comic world of the novel. Through their interactions, relationships, and individual arcs, these characters shed light on themes of personal growth, the clash between tradition and modernity, and the pursuit of happiness in a complex society.