The Accidental Tourist Questions and Answers
by Anne Tyler

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How many primary characters are there in The Accidental Tourist?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In this question, I think I am going to focus on the characters that play a major role in the thematic development of the novel.  In my mind, I see eight primary characters.  From this, one can infer the importance of others out the seven that reflect Macon's past and future.  On one hand, Macon is one of these primary characters, as the arc of his transformation represents the base of the novel.  There are three sets of polarities that exert influence on his change.  One side would be his first wife, Sarah, who is profoundly disturbed by the loss of her and Macon's son and his inability to comfort her. This puts us at two primary characters.  Muriel and her son would be the next forces on Macon's life.  She and her son Alexander open the process of change in his way of perceiving the world.  This puts us at four primary characters.  Macon's introduction to Muriel is through Edward, the dog. Edward's ability to bring them together and his characterization make him a primary character, moving us to five.  The last three come form Macon's family, his sister and two brothers, who represent another part of Macon's state of being and pose challenges to how Macon learns to appropriate his new future through an emotional frame of reference.

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