Characters Discussed

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Strong, a young farmworker who journeys into Erewhon; he discovers there a civilization partly the reverse of and partly similar to that of England. Somewhat like Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver, Strong seems a thoughtful, observant, inquiring, and sometimes rather naïve traveler. He should not be identified with the author, since Butler used him only as a convenient mouthpiece to convey the satire in the novel.

Kahabuka (Chowbok)

Kahabuka (Chowbok), an old native, a sort of chief with a little knowledge of English and a great thirst for grog, with which Strong bribes him for information about the land beyond the mountains. In England, upon his return, Strong finds Chowbok posing as a missionary, the Reverend William Habakkuk.

Senoj Nosnibor

Senoj Nosnibor, a citizen and leading merchant of Erewhon “recovering”—as if from sickness—from a serious case of embezzlement. He is assigned to instruct Strong in Erewhonian customs. His name is an anagram of “Jones Robinson.”


Arowhena, his beautiful younger daughter, with whom Strong falls in love. She helps him to escape from Erewhon, after which they marry and she is baptized into the Anglican Church, though she retains some of her former beliefs in Erewhonian deities.


Ydgrun, Erewhon’s main goddess, both an abstract concept and a silly, cruel woman. A law of Ydgrun enforces conformity to the point of intolerability. Her devotees, including priests, worship her in heart and deed rather than in words. Her name is an anagram of “Grundy.”


Zulora, the handsome older daughter of Nosnibor. She wishes to marry Strong, who develops a dislike for her.


Yram, the jailor’s pretty daughter, who is attracted to Strong. She teaches him the Erewhonian language and explains to him some of the customs of the land. Her name is an anagram of “Mary.”

The Straighteners

The Straighteners, specialists who treat Erewhonians suffering from “ailments” such as petty theft and embezzlement. They resemble twentieth century psychiatrists.


Mahaina, a homely woman, reputedly a drunkard, whose supposed drinking may perhaps be what would today be called a compensation for an inferiority complex.


Thims, a cashier at a musical bank and a friend of Strong. His name is an anagram of “Smith.”

Giovanni Gianni

Giovanni Gianni, captain of the ship that rescues Strong and Arowhena.

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Critical Essays