The Birds | Study Guide

Daphne du Maurier

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The Birds | Character Analysis


Nat Hocken

Nat Hocken is described as someone of solitary disposition, a veteran who draws a disability pension and who works on a farm. He is the main character, and readers view the story through his perspective. He first notices the birds' strange behavior while working on the farm but believes it's simply the consequence of the cold wind blowing from the east. After the birds attack him and his family, Nat tries to warn his neighbors and friends about the danger of the birds, but no one listens. Nat takes the initiative to protect his house and family by boarding up all the windows and doors. As the crisis unfolds, Nat acts as decisively as he can to protect his children, such as escorting his daughter, Jill, from the bus stop, but he feels overwhelmed and unprepared for the terror of the birds. His attempts to warn others to take sensible precautions fail, and his attempts to keep his family's morale up become more difficult as the birds' attacks become more ferocious. Early in the story, he believes that some form of help will eventually come, but he understands that the government will need time to organize a response and that in the meantime he and his family must fend for themselves. However, by the end of the story, his actions (such as wasting the wireless radio's battery pointlessly) suggest he's given up on hope of rescue and has resigned himself to being killed by the birds.

Mrs. Hocken

Mrs. Hocken is Nat's wife and the mother of his two children, Jill and Johnny. Unlike most other characters, she is relatively quick to share Nat's concern for the now-murderous birds and the danger they present. She takes care of her children and supports Nat as he tries to protect the family from the birds. While she seems a bit naive in the early parts of the story, during the trip to the Trigg farm she demonstrates she's not as sheltered as Nat might believe: she warns him to avoid passing the body of the postman on the way home to protect their children's innocence. Throughout the story, she expresses hope that some form of rescue will come and continually wonders why the government doesn't deploy military forces to kill the birds. By the end of the story she is still hoping for rescue, asking if America will send help. Like the rest of the family, her fate is left unknown.

Mr. Trigg

Harry Trigg is the owner of the farm where Nat works and thus is Nat's boss. Although he is Nat's employer, he is very friendly toward Nat, inviting Nat to join him in shooting at birds for sport. Like most characters, Trigg dismisses the birds' threat at the start of the story; even after birds attack people, he believes he can solve the problem by shooting them. He is a helpful person, as shown when he gives Jill a lift to the Hocken home. He is murdered by birds along with his wife and every other person on the farm. He dies while trying to use the telephone.

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