Heaven's Prisoners Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What are Dave and Annie doing when the novel opens?

The novel opens with Dave and Annie Robicheaux fishing and shrimping off Southwest Pass new New Iberia, Louisiana. Dave owns the boat and runs a local bait shop, and the couple has been married for one year.

2. Describe Dave Robicheaux.

Dave Robicheaux is the dominant character in the novel by any standard. He is the protagonist, the narrator, and is present in every scene. Much of the novel is given over to his personal introspection, personal history, and emotional consideration of events. He describes himself as middle-aged, physically fit, strong and fast, an accurate natural shot, and a recovering alcoholic. He has black hair with a whitish streak on one side--explaining why Robin Gaddis refers to him often as Streak. Dave is a man of action and finds paperwork and routine boring and irritating. His Catholic upbringing finds him often in church and he is devoted to and taken in by the bayou and the culture surrounding New Iberia. Dave has a complex history and is a subtle and interesting blend of devoted friend and husband, and vicious predator of evil-doers. Dave has a compelling need to right wrongs and discover the causes of situations. Thus, when Alafairs plane crashes, Dave simply must find out why, regardless of the cost. On several occasions in the novel he decides that he must abandon his pursuit for the safety of others--but every time he gives in to his unrelenting passion to fix what is wrong with the world. Dave's past history includes pitching in local baseball, boxing in high school, avid hunting and fishing with his father, a tour of duty in Vietnam, a stint as a prison guard, and several years with the New Orleans police department. Dave is divorced from Nicole prior to marrying Annie. He is also a recovering alcoholic and is frequently consumed with a burning desire to drink--a desire he usually sacrifices to his Higher Power to avoid the predictable consequences.

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