Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)

by Jerome K. Jerome
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What are character sketches of the three friends from Chapters 1-9 of Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)?

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J. is the narrator. As such, he is an astute observer of life. He likes to tell stories, that’s for sure. Everything he sees or comes into contact with reminds him of a relevant incident from the past. We don’t know if he has a “real” job. He sometimes appears to be lazy, and he’s probably a hypochondriac. But he also seems to be the leader of this little circle of friends. This trip would probably not have taken place without his involvement. He packs the equipment and the clothing for the trip in Chapter IV.

William Stanley Harris is known as simply “Harris” for most of the book. We’re not sure if he has a “real” job, either. According to J., Harris is the kind of person who boasts about being adept at a certain task, and thinks to himself he can do that task very well, but always falls short and causes misery to those around him. In Chapter III, J. equates his friend with his own Uncle Podger, who acts the same way. Another story to support this trait comes in Chapter VI, when Harris tells the story of once getting lost in the Hampton Court maze. For this trip, J. and Harris start off together before picking up George.

George works at a bank—although, according to J., his friend sleeps on the job and doesn’t really do anything at all. He and Harris tend to poke fun at George. The man does get confused at times. At the beginning of this trip, J. and Harris pick George up along the way (as detailed in Chapter VIII). He has a banjo and instruction book with him. He intends to learn the nuances of the instrument on the trip. Uh-oh.

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