"The Gutting of Couffignal" by Dashiell Hammett

Main Characters in "The Gutting of Couffignal"

The Continental OP (our detective): OP is the main character and detective in this story. Like Poe's Dupin, Hammett's OP carried throughout a series of tales. He is described by Hammett as middle-aged and overweight, but he certainly doesn't act like it here. In "The Gutting of Couffignal", the OP is tough and determined to figure out this mystery. Neither injury nor nonstop gunfire from a machine gun (yes, a machine gun) can stop the OP from tracking down the thieves and murderers responsible for a bloody battle on the island of Couffignal. But is he sexist? He denies the help of a woman and then eagerly accepts the help of a young man...

Keith Hendrixson: The Hendrixson home is where our OP is hired to guard wedding gifts. Keith Hendrixson is the bride's grandfather; a wealthy old man concerned with everyone's safety and well-being but who seems rather skittish himself. The OP describes him as, "...looking thinner and older than anybody could be," on page 232.

Princess Sonya Zhukovski: She is a strong presence in the beginning of the story, one full of energy and curiosity. When things go awry, the Princess is eager to follow the OP to see what is going on. However, she is quickly brushed off by our OP but doesn't seem bothered by it. Her appearance at the end of the story is very important.

Brophy: Brophy is the butler for Mister Hendrixson's household and is described as, "...a solemn, solid block of a man," on page 232 by our OP.

Ignati: Ignati is with the Princess and is sent out to retrieve her at one point. He is described on page 236 as, "...larger than he had looked at first. A big, slope-shouldered, barrel-bodied husky." He also doesn't speak English very well, which adds a moment of comedy.

Russian lad: When our OP makes it to the beach, he is met by a young Russian man. Together they analyze the situation at hand and get into a very dangerous showdown with a machine gun. He has very good eyesight and helps the OP to decipher things in the distance.

Flippo: Flippo is described as "...a roly-poly Italian youth of twenty-three or -four," on page 242. He and the OP know each other because the OP had sent him to prison four years ago. He plays an important role in the end of the story.

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