Portnoy's Complaint Characters

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Alex Portnoy

Alex is the book's central character and its narrator. He describes himself as being in his early thirties, with dark features and a prominent nose. Publicly he is a successful socio-political advocate for the disadvantaged—blacks, the poor, the ghettoized, for example. Privately, he is obsessed with sex—he masturbates frequently, engages in anonymous sexual encounters, never stays in relationships for longer than a few weeks at a time, and in those relationships he does stay in he becomes, to varying degrees, emotionally abusive. He sees this behavior as self-degrading and contradictory to his public persona and function, and worries over what might happen if word of who he is privately becomes public. Alex is also obsessed, and in a very angry way, with his Jewish-ness, with what being a Jew seems to mean both within and outside of the Jewish socio-spiritual community in which...

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This section contains 1,424 words
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