Who are the lead characters in The Ugly American?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Written in 1958 by American political scientist and novelist Eugene Burdock, and naval officer and author William Lederer, The Ugly American is a political novel set in Southeast Asia.

Two of the principal characters in the story are Homer Atkins and his wife, Emma. The title of the book, The...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Written in 1958 by American political scientist and novelist Eugene Burdock, and naval officer and author William Lederer, The Ugly American is a political novel set in Southeast Asia.

Two of the principal characters in the story are Homer Atkins and his wife, Emma. The title of the book, The Ugly American, refers to Homer and his appearance. Homer is a good man who, now retired, used to be an engineer. When he is contacted by the US government for advice on building roads and dams in Southeast Asia, he advises them that they should help local people build things for themselves. Later, in Sarkhan, Atkins works with Jeepo, a local man, in developing a water pump. Homer’s wife is also “ugly” in appearance. She is an intelligent woman who develops ideas along with her husband.

Three other important characters include Colonel Hillandale, who is a US Air Force colonel working in Manila, in the Philippines. Hillandale is extremely well-liked by the Manila community, but not so much by the officers at the US Embassy. There is also Apache, a Vietnamese man who is taken by communists while fighting for the French. Finally, Solomon Asch is a negotiator who works for the American delegation to the Special Armament Asia conference.

Other characters you should consider include Father Finian, Ambassador MacWhite, Ambassador Sears, Bob Maile, Major Monet, and Major James Wolchek.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team