Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 7, 2024
February 29, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
The head of a major Japanese electronics firm and an extremely hard worker. Order and diligence characterize Hosokawa’s life, and only when listening to opera does he feel passionately alive. His adoration for the voice of opera singer Roxanne Coss brings him to the poor South American country where the novel is set. There, Hosokawa and Coss fall in love.
Read an in-depth analysis of Katsumi Hosokawa
An opera diva used to the indulgence of the world. Over the course of the novel, every man who hears Coss sing falls in love with her. Eventually, Coss returns the love of Hosokawa. While she is small in stature, Coss has an oversized presence.
Read an in-depth analysis of Roxanne Coss
Hosokawa’s interpreter. Watanabe, who is in his twenties, has a great gift for languages, and the hostages and the terrorists rely on him to communicate with one another. Despite his facility with languages, Watanabe struggles when trying to express himself. He has an intuitive sense of what everyone else wants and needs, but he is not always aware of his own desires. When Watanabe falls in love with Carmen, one of the terrorists, he finds his own voice.
Read an in-depth analysis of Gen Watanabe
A shy, timid, and beautiful young terrorist. Carmen’s greatest talent is her ability to move stealthily, without other people noticing her presence. She asks Gen Watanabe to teach her how to read and write in Spanish, her native language. Over the course of their secret lessons, they fall in love.
The vice president of the small South American country in which the novel is set, and the owner of the house in which the terrorists hold their captives. Iglesias, one of the most sympathetic characters in the novel, rose up from poverty and put himself through law school by working as a clerk and a janitor. During the four-month standoff, he spends much of his time cleaning up after the other hostages and terrorists and making sure that they are all comfortable. When the terrorists allow the hostages outside, he immediately begins tending his garden.
The most intelligent and thoughtful of the three generals who lead the terrorists. Benjamin was a schoolteacher until his brother was arrested and imprisoned for handing out flyers publicizing a political protest. After that, he joined the terrorist group La Familia de Martin Suarez, named after a ten-year-old boy who was shot dead while handing out flyers for a political rally. Benjamin has left behind a wife and children, and he is fatherly to some of the young terrorists under his command. He is plagued with shingles, which rage across much of his face.
The French ambassador to the South American country where the novel is set. Because he longs for his wife, Thibault is the hostage who is most unhappy about the long standoff.
A Swiss representative for the Red Cross. who negotiates between the government and the terrorists. He is the one person allowed to come and go from the mansion. Messner punctuates the general happiness with frequent reminders that the situation will end badly.
A good numbers man in Hosokawa’s electronics company. During the four months of captivity, Kato reveals himself to be an accomplished pianist and takes over for Coss’s accompanist. The tenderness Kato feels for his wife and daughters infuses his piano playing. Kato longs to continue accompanying Coss instead of returning to his life as a businessman.
A young priest and an opera lover. Although the terrorists are willing to release him, Father Arguedas asks to stay. During the four months of captivity, he says mass and hears people’s confessions. He is one of the first characters to feel more concern than fear for the terrorists. He considers the four months during which he is able to hear Coss sing a gift from God.
A high-ranking Soviet official. Fyodorov declares his love for Coss not because he hopes she will return it, but because expressing his love for her makes him feel better. Fyodorov tells Coss how much he loved a beautiful book of paintings that his grandmother had when he was a child, and compares his love for that book to his love for her.
A South American contractor and one of the captives. Mendoza and the vice president, Iglesias, often chat, talking about their early love affairs, their adoration for Coss, and the affection they feel for one of the young terrorists, Ishmael. Mendoza has nightmares that in his absence, young men will take advantage of his five daughters, wooing them into love affairs the way Mendoza himself wooed young girls when he was a young man.
One of the youngest and brightest of the terrorists. Ishmael learns to play chess by watching General Benjamin and Hosokawa play. He is a favorite of both General Benjamin and the hostages. Iglesias becomes particularly fond of Ishmael and wants to adopt him.
A young terrorist with crooked teeth and a crooked nose. For most of the novel, no one really notices Cesar. But one morning when Coss does not come down to sing, Cesar performs instead, and his voice is practically miraculous. Coss takes him under her wing and gives him singing lessons.
The brattiest of the young terrorists. Beatriz is often cranky and frustrated, and she is quick to draw her gun if any of the hostages get out of line. But her strong will is appealing, as is her craving for affection.
Coss’s accompanist. Much to Coss’s dismay, Christopf declares his love for Coss on the plane ride to the South American country. She rejects his love, but he refuses to leave her side after they are taken captive, even when he grows deathly ill. A diabetic, he eventually dies from lack of insulin.
The governess who cares for Ruben Iglesias’ children. She ably and tenderly stitches up Iglesias’ face after he is wounded.
The president never makes a direct appearance in the novel. The terrorists invade the party in the hopes of capturing him, but he has stayed home to watch an important episode of his favorite soap opera.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Bel Canto!