Lenny, the protagonist and narrator. Lenny is eight years old in 1947, at the time of the partition of India that creates Pakistan. The protected and pampered daughter of a wealthy Parsee family in Lahore, she not only observes the violence that engulfs the city but also witnesses and participates in the consequent upheaval that affects both her family and her circle of friends. As the events unfold and the horror that the partition creates encroaches on her childhood, she gains a fuller understanding of her own nature and the adult world.
Ayah, Lenny’s nursemaid. This beautiful Hindu woman, simply called Ayah—the Urdu word for nursemaid—serves as Lenny’s link to the outside world and provides her with the warmth her aristocratic mother fails to give. Ayah attracts a variety of male admirers, whom she treats for the most part with disdain. Ayah’s circle offers Lenny a firsthand view of two important factors in Asian society: the subtleties informing male-female relationships and the conflicts created by religious differences.
Godmother, another of Lenny’s mainstays. She possesses admirable strength, stability, and wisdom, as well as a keen understanding of human nature. Lenny depends on these qualities as the events of partition crack her once-secure world. Not only does Godmother, who remains nameless like Ayah, represent the finest qualities of...
(The entire section is 425 words.)