Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – Jim Williams

In the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, there is a quote that states “He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache, hair turning silver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine – he could see out, but you couldn’t see in.”

This quote is a good set-up for the rest of the novel, because it gives the reader a brief glimpse of the type of person Jim Williams, the protagonist of the novel, is about.

  • Sinister – implies that Williams may not have the most pure or innocent intentions
  • Neatly trimmed mustache – he is a cultured man (similar to that of of a Southern gentleman) suggesting he is not only evil but intelligent
  • Limousine analogy – he leads a private life, but he is observant of those around him

All these traits suggest that Jim Williams is a power hungry man. This side of him is shown in the novel as it progresses. In the quiet, secluded town of Savannah, Georgia, the wealthy and ostentatious generally keep to themselves. However, Williams throws the most desired and massive party once every year, and this attracts people from the town left and right. People fight for an invite, and it gives Williams great pleasure knowing that he has the power to control who is able to go to his party. He can choose to kick someone off the list at a moment’s notice, and he enjoys this power.

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2 thoughts on “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – Jim Williams

  1. Good analysis of the description. I think the way Berendt uses description throughout the novel is going to play a very important role in its development. He spent an awful lot of time describing so much in the first several chapters that it makes me think he is really trying to stress certain aspects of Savannah and the people in it. The way he describes the narrator as well as the people the narrator encounters since he has been staying in Savannah for longer periods of times can help with determining if these people are important or not. Description is always a good way of determining what the author really meant.

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  2. I like the way that you organized your blog post so that it is readily comprehensible and easy to understand what Jim Williams is like, in terms of his character and personality, simply based upon the way his physical appearance is described. I think that Jim is power-hungry as well, particularly in terms of obtaining wealth, as he quite likes living like an aristocrat. When asked, “How does it feel to be nouveau riche?,” he responds, “it’s the riche that counts” (Berendt 7), demonstrating his inclinations toward luxury and wealth. He enjoys the finer things in life and doesn’t mind flaunting his wealth, in fact, prefers it. There is also the matter of how he has obtained his wealth, apparently by selling antiques. However, it is also implied that it may have been acquired through not-so-innocent means. He seems to be a rather questionable, shady, and (as you had stated) sinister character in the novel.

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