Giovanni’s Room

by

James Baldwin

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Guillaume Character Analysis

The owner of the bar in which David and Giovanni first meet, Guillaume is an older gay man who belongs to a well-respected French family. Like Jacques, he uses his money to convince attractive young men to sleep with him, a tactic he uses on Giovanni after meeting him at the movies one night. In return for various sexual favors, he gives Giovanni a job at his bar and a worker’s permit. When Giovanni stops responding to his sexual advances because he’s in relationship with David, though, Guillaume fires him, accusing him in front of an entire crowd of stealing from the bar. This enrages Giovanni, who tells David that he would be a wreck if it weren’t for their relationship. In keeping with this sentiment, Giovanni goes down a dark path when David eventually leaves him for Hella—a path that leads him back to Guillaume, who insinuates that Giovanni can have his job back if he has sex with him. Swallowing his pride, then, Giovanni submits to Guillaume in a room above the bar. When they finish, Guillaume tells him that he won’t hire him back after all, and Giovanni becomes so enraged that he strangles him to death with the belt of his dressing gown.

Guillaume Quotes in Giovanni’s Room

The Giovanni’s Room quotes below are all either spoken by Guillaume or refer to Guillaume. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Gardners Books edition of Giovanni’s Room published in 2001.
Part 1: Chapter 2 Quotes

As long as I was there the world could see and he could believe that he was out with me, his friend, he was not there out of desperation, he was not at the mercy of whatever adventurer chance, cruelty, or the laws of actual and emotional poverty might throw his way.

Related Characters: David (speaker), Giovanni, Jacques, Guillaume
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

As for the boys at the bar, they were each invisibly preening, having already calculated how much money he and his copain would need for the next few days, having already appraised Guillaume to within a decimal of that figure, and having already estimated how long Guillaume, as a fountainhead, would last, and also how long they would be able to endure him. […] There was also Jacques, who might turn out to be a bonus, or merely a consolation prize.

Related Characters: David (speaker), Giovanni, Jacques, Guillaume
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:
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Guillaume Character Timeline in Giovanni’s Room

The timeline below shows where the character Guillaume appears in Giovanni’s Room. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Chapter 2
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
Gender and Societal Expectations Theme Icon
...lend him 10,000 francs, they make their way to a bar owned by Jacque’s friend, Guillaume, another older and wealthy gay man. David has spent a fair amount of time at... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
Gender and Societal Expectations Theme Icon
...David and Jacques’s table, David invites him to have a drink with them. Just then, Guillaume appears behind Jacques and says, “Not only have you finally—thank heaven!—corrupted this great American football... (full context)
Part 1: Chapter 3
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
When Guillaume finally locks the door of his bar, it is 5:00 in the morning. Together, he,... (full context)
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
...the hostess, who ushers the men inside. Before making their way to the dining room, Guillaume suggests that they should all have a drink at the bar, clearly wanting to talk... (full context)
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
...starts flirting with one of the young men at the bar. Since both he and Guillaume are preoccupied, then, Giovanni and David slip into the dining room and order a bottle... (full context)
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
...he had no money when he first came to Paris, which is why he accepted Guillaume’s dinner invite. At dinner, he learned that Guillaume owned a bar and that he could... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
Gender and Societal Expectations Theme Icon
Upon leaving Guillaume and Jacques at the restaurant, Giovanni insists that David  should come back to his room,... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 1
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
...point they have a drink before going to breakfast. Although they sometimes have breakfast at Guillaume’s bar, this is rare because Guillaume has come to dislike David. Consequently, they usually leave... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 3
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
...at work. Instead, he’s very drunk and distraught. Explaining what happened, he tells David that Guillaume fired him. Going on, he informs him that Guillaume arrived at work that night in... (full context)
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
In his argument with Giovanni, Guillaume suggests that the young man has manipulated him by leading him on. To counter this... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
Giovanni tells David that he punched Guillaume, at which point a crowd of people pulled him away. Knowing that the police might... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 4
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
...young man tells him that Giovanni is no longer with Jacques. He also says that Guillaume might give Giovanni his job back. Within the week, though, authorities find Guillaume dead in... (full context)
Part 2: Chapter 5
Travel, Identity, and Emotional Escape Theme Icon
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
News of Guillaume’s murder travels throughout Paris. The newspapers run long pieces about the details of the incident,... (full context)
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
David imagines the night of Guillaume’s murder, knowing that Giovanni must not have intended to kill him. Envisioning the entire scene,... (full context)
Money, Sex, and Exploitation Theme Icon
Guillaume touches Giovanni and has his way with him, instructing him to take off his clothes.... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
...deny this. Going on, she speculates that David thinks it’s his fault that Giovanni killed Guillaume. Wanting to make him feel better, she insists that there’s nothing he could have done... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
...letter from Jacques—the letter that informed David that Giovanni will be executed this morning for Guillaume’s murder. As David undresses to change into the clothes he’ll wear while traveling, he envisions... (full context)