Nostromo's role as the one acted upon by others is illustrated in a literary sense
by his floating, flexible name, which others impose upon him. "Nostromo"
comes from (Captain Mitchell's mispronunciation of the Italian for) "our
man." "Gian' Battista" is John the Baptist -- baptism, of course,
being the ceremony where one is named by others. It is not until late in the book
that we learn Nostromo's real name.