Dr. Aziz (ah-ZEEZ), an amiable, sensitive, and intelligent young Moslem doctor in Chandrapore, India. Ignored and snubbed by the English colony, he nevertheless becomes friendly with three English newcomers to India—Mr. Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Miss Quested. When he takes them on a tour of the sinister Marabar Caves, Miss Quested becomes separated from the party, and later she accuses him of attempted rape. Jailed and humiliated, he becomes markedly anti-British. After Miss Quested withdraws her charge at his trial, he wants to collect damages, but Fielding dissuades him. Suspicious of Fielding’s motives, he breaks off the friendship. Two years later, the two men meet again, and each realizes that any true communion between them is impossible because of their racial allegiances.
Cecil Fielding, the principal of the Government College, a middle-aged, maverick intellectual who resists the herd instinct of his fellow Englishmen. He has Indian friends; he defends Aziz against the English bigots, and when Miss Quested is ostracized after the trial, he offers her the protection of his home. Tired of the whole situation, he takes a trip to England, marries, and then returns to India, where he finds Aziz less cordial than before.
Adela Quested, a priggish young woman who goes to India to marry Ronald Heaslop; she announces that she is eager to see the real India. Her trip to the Marabar Caves proves disastrous. Thinking that she has been the victim of an attempted attack, she accuses Aziz; however, she shows courage by retracting the charge at his trial. The scandal ruins her prospective marriage and causes her to be avoided by almost everyone. She returns to England alone.
Mrs. Moore, Ronald Heaslop’s mother, a lovely, sensitive old woman who accompanies Miss Quested to India. She has great regard for Dr. Aziz, but at the Marabar Caves, she has a strange psychic experience, an unhappy intuition that life is worthless. When she irritably defends Dr. Aziz to her son, he sends her home, and she dies on the way.
Ronald Heaslop, the self-righteous city magistrate, a man coarsened by life in India. Wishing his mother and fiancée to have nothing to do with the natives, he finds himself in a position where he must reject both to preserve his own standards and vanity.
Professor Godbole, a gentle old teacher at the college, a friend of Dr. Aziz and Fielding. He represents the Hindu mystical aspects of India as opposed to the narrower nationalisms of the Moslems and British.
The Nawab Bahadur
The Nawab Bahadur, a wealthy Moslem who, acting as an unofficial diplomat between the Moslems and English, does favors for the whites. When Dr. Aziz is tried, he rejects the British.
Hamidullah, Dr. Aziz’s well-to-do, Anglophobic uncle, a Cambridge barrister who conducts his nephew’s defense.
Mahmoud Ali, a family friend of Hamidullah and Dr. Aziz. Cynical and embittered toward the English, he makes an emotional, histrionic defense of Dr. Aziz at the trial.
Mohammed Latif, a poor, sneaky relative of Hamidullah and Aziz.
Major Callendar, the civil surgeon, Dr. Aziz’s brutal superior, who believes that “white is right.”
Mr. Turton, a white official who is willing to extend courtesy to the natives and nothing more; a man who has succumbed to power and race snobbery.
Mrs. Turton, his haughty wife, who comforts Adela Quested after the incident at the Marabar Caves.
Mr. McBryde, the chief of police, an intelligent man who treats Dr. Aziz decently but at the same time supervises the prosecution. He is provincial in his attitudes.
Miss Derek, a selfish young woman who takes advantage of her Indian employers.
Amritrao, Dr. Aziz’s defense lawyer, imported from Calcutta, who gets Miss Quested to withdraw her charges.
Mr. Das, Heaslop’s subordinate, the judge at the trial, a Hindu who later becomes friendly with Dr. Aziz.
Ralph Moore, Mrs. Moore’s odd son, a boy who finally gets Cecil Fielding and Dr. Aziz together again.
Stella Moore, Mrs. Moore’s daughter, a sensitive girl who marries Cecil Fielding.