Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Johann Buddenbrook

Johann Buddenbrook (YOH-hahn BOO-dehn-brohk), the stout, rosy-faced, benevolent-looking patriarch of the Buddenbrook family. He is the wealthy, successful senior partner of a grain-trading firm inherited from his father.

Johann “Jean” Buddenbrook, Jr.

Johann “Jean” Buddenbrook, Jr., called The Consul, his serious-looking, aquiline-nosed, blond-bearded first son by his second wife. Jean combines the sentimentalist and the businessman. He rejoices over a happy family gathering, worries about the alienation of his half brother, Gotthold, from the family, and then advises coolly that Gotthold’s request for money be denied because of likely future results to both family and firm. Jean’s pietism seems foreign to the other Buddenbrooks, whose religion is superficial and confined to conventional sentiments proper to people of their class.

Antonie (Tony) Buddenbrook

Antonie (Tony) Buddenbrook (AHN-toh-nee), later Frau Grünlich, and Frau Permaneder, Jean’s oldest child. She has ash-blonde hair, gray-blue eyes, and finely shaped but stumpy hands. Impetuous in youth, she becomes conventional in maturity, but to her brother Tom she always remains a child in her reactions to the incidents in her life. She easily adapts herself to any situation; she is not humiliated by the dissolution of her marriage to Grünlich and is proud of the fact that she becomes a person of importance in the family. She adapts as readily to the breaking up of her marriage to Permaneder. As she develops a closer intimacy with her father following her first divorce, she recognizes and establishes closer ties with Tom after the death of their father. She sees the two of them as true Buddenbrooks, for their brother Christian does not really seem one of the family, and young Clara remains an unimportant sister. The retention of dignity for both herself and the family becomes almost a religion with Tony.

Tom Buddenbrook

Tom Buddenbrook, Jean’s older son (modeled upon Thomas Mann’s father). A quick-witted, intelligent, even-tempered boy, he becomes a strong, sturdy youth resembling his grandfather Johann. As he matures, he develops a stocky, broad-shouldered figure and a military air. His excessive clothes consciousness seems out of character for a Buddenbrook. An earnest, responsible businessman, he is proud of his burgher ancestry, and he contrasts his own desire to preserve the family name with the lack of imagination and idealism shown by Gotthold, his father’s half brother. He is increasingly disgusted with Christian’s business irresponsibility and his reputation as a strange kind of clown. He cannot forgive Christian’s joking observation in company that all businessmen are swindlers. In his prime, Tom is more aggressive than the earlier Buddenbrooks, but occasionally a little less scrupulous. His participation in public affairs and his interest in culture set him somewhat apart from his ancestors and his business associates. Early in his forties, he becomes increasingly aware that he has grown...

(The entire section is 1308 words.)