Paul de Montigny

Text: 
Display Name: 
Paul de Montigny
Sort Name: 
de Montigny, Paul
Race: 
MixedBlackWhite
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Free Black
Rank: 
Secondary
Vitality: 
Dies
Origin: 
Louisiana
Cause of Death: 
Murder
Biography: 

There is a lot that is never explained about Paul's character - where he lives, for example, and what he does - but the one mystery that matters most is his racial identity. Paul is in Jefferson as a white man, but the friend who introduces him to Elly insists he is really black. As part of her proof, she recounts a story in which Paul's "uncle killed a man once that accused him of having nigger blood" (209). Elly's grandmother claims to know "the name which his people have borne for four generations" in Louisiana, indicating a change in their identity after the Civil War (218). Both Elly's friend and Elly's grandmother bolster their claim about Paul's race with attestations that one can simply see Paul's black blood in his physical appearance. Elly's friend points to "his hair . . . Like a knitted cap. And his lips. Blubber, almost" (209). Though Elly points to his education at Virginia and Harvard "and everywhere" as evidence that he is white, Elly's grandmother points to "his hair, his fingernails, if you need proof" of black blood (218). Notably, Paul himself never addresses his racial heritage, even when Elly brings it up directly at the end. In the story, he stands apart from others largely in being impervious to Elly's attempts to manipulate him.

Social Status: 
has influential social contacts (family, business, political)
Individual or Group: 
Individual
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Character