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Tropic of Cancer | Characters

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Character Description
Henry Miller Henry Miller is a writer who lives in Paris in poverty and spends his money on alcohol and prostitutes. His time in Paris, during which he often wanders the streets aimlessly, is crucial to his development as an artist. Read More
Mona Mona is Henry's wife. She lives in the United States and periodically sends him money to live on. She breaks up with Henry after a visit to Paris because of his many sexual betrayals, and he continues to pine for her. Read More
Van Norden Van Norden is a conceited writer friend of Henry's. He and Henry jokingly refer to each other as "Joe." Van Norden is addicted to sex with prostitutes, but his objectification of women and the mechanical way he treats sex prevent him from true intimacy. Read More
Fillmore Fillmore is a young American diplomat who invites Henry to live with him when he has nowhere else to go. He carouses with Henry in bars and insists Henry produce a few pages of writing every day. Read More
Boris Boris is a writer friend of Henry's who shares a room with him at the Villa Borghese. Boris hates his own wife, and is writing what he refers to as The Last Book with Henry. Read More
Carl Carl is an American writer friend of Henry's who lives in a hotel room in Paris, goes out on the town with Henry frequently, and complains about not getting published. Read More
Tania Tania is Sylvester's Russian wife. She sleeps with Henry several times, spending afternoons with him when she comes back from Russia. She refuses to let Henry stay with her so she can continue to appear faithful to Sylvester. Read More
Agha Mir Agha Mir is a fortune-teller who advertises in the newspaper Henry proofreads.
American woman The American woman comes to look at Boris's apartment, and Henry is disappointed when they are not introduced.
Anatole Anatole is a Russian friend of Henry's who plays mandolin and visits Henry at Nanantatee's house.
Bessie Bessie is a friend of Van Norden's who is sexually promiscuous but won't sleep with Van Norden because he lacks passion due to his stunted, inhuman views about women and sex.
Big Swede A big Swede helps trigger the bar brawl that erupts at Jimmie's Bar when he slaps the Russian girl.
Blonde with agate-colored eyes The blonde with agate-colored eyes is the woman Henry has sex with in the bathroom of the restaurant where he and Mona go to dinner with Borowski.
Borowski Borowski is a Jewish artist friend of Henry's who plays the accordion, wears corduroy suits, carries a cane, and has lunch with Henry every Wednesday.
Castrated sculptor Macha moves in with the castrated sculptor after living with Fillmore and Henry.
M. le Censeur M. le Censeur is second-in-charge at the Lycée in Dijon where Henry goes to teach.
Claude Claude is a prostitute whom Henry thought he might be in love with. He thinks Claude is too delicate and refined for the job, especially in comparison to Germaine.
Collins Collins is an American sailor who befriends Henry and Fillmore, accompanying them on a trip to Le Havre. Collins takes care of Henry when he gets sick, giving him several hundred francs when Henry returns to Paris.
Cronstadt Cronstadt is an intellectual and poet friend of Henry's who regularly invites him to dinner.
Madame Delorme Madame Delorme is a wealthy lesbian whom Henry visits in a drunken haze soon after he arrives in Paris.
Dostoyevsky Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a 19th-century Russian novelist whose work Henry deeply respects. Dostoyevsky is known for writing about characters, often poor, in states of extreme suffering.
Drunken Englishman The drunken Englishman asks Henry and Fillmore to help him bargain, in a whorehouse, for a prostitute identified as "the Negress."
Monsieur l'Econome Monsieur l'Econome is an administrator in charge of expenditures at the school in Dijon, whom everyone seems to hate.
Elsa Elsa is a German girl Boris brings in to cook for him. Henry sleeps with her.
Eugene Eugene is a Russian man who shares his rooms and his rancid food with Henry.
Fanny Fanny is Moldorf's wife and the mother of his two children. While Moldorf thinks that she is flawless, Henry thinks that she is emotionally dead.
Germaine Germaine is Henry's favorite prostitute because she loves her body, visibly enjoys sex with her customers, and is not shy about coming to find him.
Ginette Ginette is the crazy, controlling, pregnant French girlfriend of Henry's friend Fillmore, who drives Fillmore so mad that Henry helps Fillmore escape from her.
Girlfriend of Mark Swift Mark Swift's girlfriend is also his model, and a painter in her own right who has a better reputation than he does. Swift treats her and her work with contempt.
The guys upstairs The guys upstairs are the domineering bosses at the newspaper where Henry works as a proofreader. He flatters them and tries to act humble in order to keep his job.
Hunchback The hunchback is a servant at the school in Dijon, whom Henry dubs "Quasimodo" and equates with a gargoyle.
Hungarian doctor The Hungarian doctor recommends medications and equipment to Fillmore to help cure Macha's gonorrhea.
Irène Irène is an older, rich woman to whom Carl and Henry write long letters, hoping to have sex with her so that she might financially support them. Carl tells Henry that he failed to sleep with Irène, as he was hoping she would be younger, but tells Van Norden that he had extensive sex with her.
Jimmie Jimmie is the owner of a bar in Le Havre where Henry, Collins, and Fillmore go to get drunk. Jimmie's wife, Yvette, has a crush on Collins.
Joe Joe is the name of Henry's friend who accompanies him on adventures in Jacksonville, Florida.
Kepi Kepi is an Indian friend of Nanantatee who helps visitors from India who come to Paris. A low-level con artist who is only interested in sex, he has a wife and eight children in Bombay.
Kroa Kroa is a student at the school in Dijon, known for being a champion farter.
Kruger Kruger is a sculptor who lets Henry stay with him in his studio, until Henry gets sick, and Kruger kicks him out.
Lesbian concertgoer Henry sees a lesbian attending a concert. The rest of the audience falls asleep, but she is enthralled by the music.
Llona Llona is a prostitute Henry admires because she is completely uninhibited and wildly sexual.
Lucienne Lucienne is a prostitute who Henry and Van Norden see in a bistro with her meek, devoted pimp.
Lucienne's pimp Lucienne's pimp is a meek man who waits for Lucienne to finish her rounds as a prostitute. Henry describes them as acting like a married couple.
Macha Macha is a Russian princess who stays with Fillmore for a while. She frustrates Fillmore and Henry when she avoids sleeping with them.
Macha's lawyer Macha's lawyer, a young Frenchman, tries to win back her fortune. He gives her money, sleeps with her, and gets gonorrhea.
Maid in Van Norden's room The maid is a woman Van Norden verbally abuses in front of Henry when she comes to help Van Norden move out of his room.
Marcelle Marcelle is an ex-prostitute, now the mistress of a sea captain, who attracts Henry in Le Havre.
Marlowe Marlowe is a drunken poet from San Francisco who edits a literary review in Paris, which he passes on to Carl and Henry.
Matisse Henri Matisse is a real-life artist whose light, colorful depictions of the female body inspire Henry.
Moe Moe is Moldorf and Fanny's son, and Murray's brother.
Moldorf Moldorf is a writer friend of Henry's whom Henry is both disgusted and intrigued by because he is coarse one moment, but delicate the next.
Mollesse Mollesse is one of the many superficial students at the school in Dijon.
Mona's patron Mona's patron is a man who Henry describes as a "fetus with a cigar in his mouth." Mona likely sleeps with him to get the money she sends to Henry in Paris.
Murray Murray is Moldorf and Fanny's son, and Moe's brother.
Nanantatee Nanantatee is an Indian pearl merchant who has Henry stay with him in Paris in exchange for cleaning and cooking. He treats Henry badly, causing Henry to quit.
Olga Olga is a Bulgarian woman who makes shoes to help support Eugene and his wife.
Papini Papini is an Italian writer whose work Henry reads, and who is Henry's mirror image in many ways. Like Henry, he hates being obligated to other people, loves his freedom, and is a passionate writer.
Passeleau Passeleau is a student at the school in Dijon who studies medicine, borrows money, and talks about French poets.
Peckover Peckover is a proofreader who only gets three hours of sleep a night and dies after accidentally falling down an elevator shaft, at which point Henry is able to take his job.
Le Pénible Le Pénible is a dour student at the school in Dijon, who acts as a money lender and is killed in a car crash. Henry suspects that he is Jewish.
Petit Paul Petit Paul is a student at the school in Dijon who thinks about nothing but sex.
Photographer The photographer is a man who takes explicit nude photographs of Henry, as one of Henry's many short-term jobs. He explores Paris with Henry, and later introduces him to Kruger.
Pregnant woman The pregnant woman propositions Henry, who is turned off by her pregnancy.
Priest in Jacksonville An Irish-Catholic priest in Jacksonville refuses to help Henry and Joe. They later see him drive off in a limousine, smoking a cigar.
Priest in Paris A priest in Paris escorts Henry and Fillmore out of a church they visit, suspicious of their seedy appearance.
Monsieur le Prince Monsieur le Prince is a superficial student at the school in Dijon.
Prostitute at Carl's apartment The prostitute at Carl's apartment is asleep when Henry arrives. Carl offers her to Henry.
Prostitute called the "Negress" The prostitute called the "Negress" is a prostitute in a brothel, with whom Fillmore has sex, upsetting Macha.
Prostitute with a wooden stump Henry notices a teenage prostitute who is missing a leg and has a wooden stump. He pities her, but is also curious about sleeping with her.
Prostitute who works for the tall, blonde pimp The prostitute who works for the tall, blonde pimp treats him affectionately. Henry claims that there is contentment and harmony between her and the pimp.
M. le Proviseur M. le Proviseur is Henry's contact at the Lycée in Dijon, where he goes to teach.
Rabbi Henry visits a rabbi in Jacksonville, Florida, to ask for a handout, but the rabbi sends Henry brusquely to the Salvation Army.
Monsieur Renaud Monsieur Renaud is a teacher at the school in Dijon. Henry finds him dull and pretentious.
Retired fur merchant The Jewish retired fur merchant hires Henry to write articles under his name.
Russian girl The Russian girl is a woman at Jimmie's Bar who gets into a brawl with Yvette due to Yvette's jealousy about Collins.
Serge Serge is a Russian man who drives a delivery truck and hires Henry to teach him English in exchange for a bed and a meal. Henry escapes, unable to withstand the overwhelming insects and the smell of formaldehyde in Serge's apartment.
Mark Swift Mark Swift is an Irish painter who befriends Henry. Swift is abusive to his girlfriend, telling her she has no talent as a painter.
Sylvester Sylvester is a dramatist who is ill, but has Henry have dinner at his house frequently, even though he is jealous of Henry, who is sleeping with Sylvester's wife.
Tall, blonde pimp Henry and Van Norden see the tall, blonde pimp in a bistro, where he seems to get along harmoniously with the prostitute who works for him, according to Henry.
Two lovers In Dijon Henry sees two lovers walk by, which eases his loneliness and disappointment for a moment.
The veilleur de nuit The veilleur de nuit is the night watchman at the school in Dijon. He is the only person there with whom Henry feels a sense of kinship.
Walt Whitman Walt Whitman is a 19th-century American writer, most famous for his ecstatic, free verse poems about American life. Henry dislikes Whitman's optimism, but loves his generosity and inclusion, calling him "the Poet of the Body and the Soul."
Weeping prostitute The weeping prostitute is a woman Henry meets who claims she just buried her child and has a sick mother. When she disappoints him in bed, he steals back the money he gave her, plus some money of her own.
Wife of Borowski The wife of Borowski earns no respect from Henry, who calls her a "dried-up cow." Her husband hates her, too.
Wife of Cronstadt The wife of Cronstadt demands carbon copies of some of Henry's writings in exchange for dinner.
Woman in the rain Henry meets a woman in the street during a downpour. She asks him for money, which he gives her, and moves him by kissing his hand.
Mr. Wren Mr. Wren is a painter and writer whose wife says he "thinks as he goes along." Mr. Wren and his wife come to rent an apartment from Boris.
Mrs. Wren The wife of Mr. Wren, her "loose laugh" inspires Henry to spill his thoughts at a party.
Young girl at Carl's The young girl at Carl's is a 15-year-old with whom he has been having a sexual affair. Her parents are horrified and come to take her away.
Young man from India The young man from India is a client of Kepi's and a fan of American ideals. He and Henry go to a whorehouse, where the young man causes an uproar among the prostitutes by defecating in a bidet, used for cleansing the genitals and rectum, instead of a toilet.
Young, starving whore Van Norden and Henry hire a young, starving prostitute. Henry watches as Van Norden has cold, mechanical sex with her.
Yvette, Jimmie's wife Yvette is the wife of Jimmie, the bar owner in Le Havre. When she falls in love with Collins, her jealousy causes a huge fight in which the bar is destroyed.
Yvette, Ginette's friend Yvette is the friend of Ginette's who tries to turn Collins against her by lying to Henry, saying that Ginette is not pregnant and is a gold digger.
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