List of Characters
Ruma—a young Bengali woman trained as a lawyer.
Adam—her Caucasian American husband.
Akash—Adam and Ruma's young son.
Ruma's father—a retired Bengali widower.
Mrs. Meenakshi Bagchi—the Bengali woman Ruma's father starts seeing after his wife dies.
Pranab Chakraborty/ Also called Pranab Kaku (uncle)—the Bengali friend of the narrator's family.
Deborah—Prenab's American girlfriend and eventual wife.
Usha—the female narrator, just a girl when Pranab enters her family's life.
Boudi—Usha's mother, who longs hopelessly for Pranab.
Matty—Deborah's little brother, who Usha gets high with at their wedding.
"A Choice of Accommodations"
Amit Sarkar—the lead male character, and the reason the couple are attending Pam Borden's wedding.
Megan—Amit's wife, a doctor.
Pam Borden—Amit's friend from childhood, she'd been a girl who reigned over and guided the boys when they were young.
Headmaster Borden—Pam's father, and the one who asked his daughter to watch over Amit.
Mr. Nagle—Amit's former English teacher and advisor at Langford.
Felicia—a friend of Pam's who plans to marry. Amit offends her by speaking honestly about his marriage.
Ted Schultz—Amit's old classmate, whom he offends by forgetting his name.
Sudha Mukherjee—the female lead in the story, first the less successful sister, then the mother and near salvation of the family.
Rahul Mukherjee—Sudha's alcoholic brother.
Elaine—Rahul's older girlfriend, a waitress and would be actress.
Roger Featherstone—Sudha's husband. Older, British, and an editor at an art magazine.
Neel—Sudha's baby boy.
Sang—a young Bengali woman who's dropped out from Harvard and is going through a relationship.
Paul—a doctoral student whose failed first exam unbalances him, making him hesitant.
Heather—Paul and Sang's housemate, a single law student at Boston College.
Charles—Sang's friend who helps her move in.
Farouk—also known as Freddy, Sang's rather...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
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Ruma is one of the main characters in "Unaccustomed Earth." The other is her father. The two of them are going through a massive reorganization of their relationship. They are each aware of some of the main reasons for these changes--her mother's death, her father's aging—but each is also changing for reasons the other does not know, or does not fully understand. Ruma's father surprises her by being more modern than she has realized. He is involved with a woman and travels frequently, two factors which free him from some expectations inculcated by his culture. Fundamentally changed by motherhood, Ruma has found herself reluctant to return to work. She is restless over the changes in both herself and her father and anxious to do the right thing.
Amit is the main character in "A Choice of Accommodations." When his friend Pam Borden marries, this gives him an opportunity to revisit the boarding school of his youth. This means that as an adult, he gets to re-experience all at once the hesitancy and clumsiness he had known then. When he fumbles over a classmate's name, calling Ted Schultz "Tim," this sums up his outsider status he had known as a boy: always intending to say the right thing, but always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. This is underscored in his talk with Pam's friend Felicia, when he lets slip a more morose and depressing view of marriage than she is prepared to hear.
Sudha is the main character in "Only Goodness." What is interesting about Sudha is how she tries to balance all of her values, all her responsibilities, and all the demands upon her. Though the older child, she had been less favored than her younger brother, who was tagged as the academic star early on. Their positions eventually changed through her methodical work, and through his methodical, alcoholic self-destruction. Sudha feels intensely guilty for having given Rahul his first drink, and then for the combination of trusting him too much and keep his addiction secret from her husband Roger, thereby putting their son at risk.
Hema provides a great portrait of how character can be set in childhood. When she was a child, she was displaced from her own home when the Choudhuri came to stay and Kaushik was given her room. She falls for Mrs. Choudhuri as a vision of style, and...
(The entire section is 631 words.)