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Surfacing | Characters

Character Description
Narrator The narrator, unnamed throughout the novel, must answer questions about her father's disappearance. At the same time, she confronts her own disjointed memory and her tepid feelings for her boyfriend, Joe. Read More
Anna Anna is the narrator's closest personal friend who accompanies her to the island to investigate the narrator's father's disappearance. Read More
David David is a sexist, American-hating man who justifies his abusive behavior toward his wife, Anna, in a variety of ways. Read More
Joe Joe is the sulky, resentful boyfriend of the narrator. Read More
Claude Claude is a young man who works at a local bar, sells fishing licenses, and works as a guide for tourists.
Evans Evans is an American who works as a guide and who transports the narrator and her friends to and from the island.
Game wardens Two men the narrator thinks are game wardens come with Claude and Paul to deliver the news her father's dead body was found by some fishermen.
Madame Paul's wife, known as "Madame," was friendly toward the narrator's mother in the past, but they never became very close because of the language barrier.
Madame the shopkeeper Another woman known as "Madame" worked at a local store during the narrator's childhood; she was missing one hand.
Bill Malmstrom Bill Malmstrom is an American environmentalist who wants to buy the narrator's parents' property.
Men in Elvis Presley haircuts Two men in Elvis Presley haircuts sit at the counter of the store where the narrator buys supplies. They snicker as the mustached woman makes fun of the narrator's poor French.
Mustached woman A young French-speaking woman with a light mustache works at the store where the narrator buys supplies. She wears slacks and mocks the narrator's poor French.
Narrator's brother The narrator's brother, who nearly drowned before she was born, is estranged from her, but she has strong childhood memories of him. He drew pictures of war and weapons and killed small animals.
Narrator's ex The narrator begins the novel believing this man was her husband. It turns out he was only her lover, and he had a wife and family he was unwilling to leave.
Narrator's father The narrator's father chose to live on the isolated island partly in response to the violence and irrationality of the world. His disappearance is the reason the narrator returns to her hometown.
Narrator's mother The narrator's mother died of brain cancer before the beginning of the novel. She was an unemotional woman who fed birds. She kept her pain private and took it to the grave.
Paul Paul, a French-speaking friend of the narrator's father, is a kind man who knows some English. He writes to the narrator to tell her of her father's disappearance.
Mr. Percival Mr. Percival is the narrator's boss, for whom she is currently illustrating a book of children's folk tales.
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