Appointment in Samarra Caroline Walker English

John O'Hara

Caroline Walker English

Julian’s wife, Caroline, is the thirty-one-year-old daughter of Mrs. Waldo Wallace Walker. She is the second-most important character in the novel and the only one that has an entire chapter dedicated to her (chapter 5). Her mother raises her in a hands-off way, and Caroline grows up to be independent and well-educated. A privileged Anglo-Saxon woman, Caroline disliked most of the children at the Mission school where she once worked as a teacher, favoring the very few “who are more like Lantenengo Street children.”  

She has a skewed perspective on sexuality due to a lack of communication with her mother and having been molested by an eleven-year-old boy while she was working at the Mission school. At twenty-six, Caroline had grown weary of men, and by the time she started dating Julian, she had had a couple of failed romances. She decided to lose her virginity to Julian once she knew they loved each other and would get married. The couple then settled into a privileged life on the elitist Lantenengo Street.

Caroline and Julian agreed that they would have children after their fifth year of marriage, but Caroline is concerned that she could become the housewife who gets cheated on. By the time the action of the novel takes place, Caroline has become tired of Julian’s excessive drinking and uncontrollable behavior. Despite the fact that her love for Julian is sincere, Caroline is not willing to compromise her social status over his recklessness, and she refuses to go away with Julian when he asks. Outside her arguments with Julian, the only time we see Caroline lose her temper and be blunt is when Dr. English gives her the news of Julian’s death:

“Ah, go away. You did it. You, you don’t like him. You did, too, you pompous old man. . . . He never liked you. . . . So high and mighty and nasty to him when we went to your house for Christmas. Don’t think he didn’t notice it. You made him do it, not me.”  

This may be the only time we see her speak her mind to someone who is not her husband. Her words demonstrate that Caroline, like Julian, can be a hypocrite: in chapter 3, after the couple opened the envelopes with the Christmas money given to them by Dr. and Mrs. English, Caroline said that Julian’s parents were “so swell.”