The anonymous narrator is the main character in the short story. He is not given a name or an age; this suggests that his personal identity is not important and that he represents a stereotype within the narrative.
The author makes no references to the narrator’s outer characterization. We do not know anything about him or his life outside this particular episode in his life, except that he has no experience in the restaurant business, a fact which he mentions at the end of the story.
The narrator’s inner characterization is constructed through his language, his thoughts, and his actions.
Initially, the narrator finds himself attracted by both the inexpensive food and the fact that the diner appears to be cleaner than others. His description of the cafe suggests that he pays attention to small details and that he appreciates both a good deal and homeliness:
The signs on the windows lured me inside. For a dollar I could get two eggs, toast, and potatoes. The place looked better than most – family-run and clean. The signs were hand-lettered and neat. The paper had yellowed some, but the black letters remained bold. A green-and-white awning was perched over the door, where the name ‘Clara’s’ was stenciled.
The narrator notes that it is early in the morning, but we are not told why the narrator is out or why he is looking for breakfast. The narrator is characterized by a sense of mystery surrounding his background and motivations, drawing the reader’s attention onto the present moment.
The narrator seems to appreciate Javier’s clothing – “He was dressed immaculately”. The authorities arrive to detain Javier, but the narrator gives no other description of them – he never mentions what kind of authorities they are or how many they are. This superficial description shows that he is not too interested in this event. Although it is unusual and unexpected, the narrator seems to have no particular reaction to it.
The rest of the story is very descriptive, emphasizing the narrator’s consideration for the...