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Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 505

Oliver Sacks:

Oliver Sacks is the author and main character in the essays. He becomes passionate about swimming at Oxford. This led to him finding the house he lived in for 20 years once he moved to New York. Oliver is a dedicated person with a passion for many things,...

(The entire section contains 505 words.)

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Oliver Sacks:

Oliver Sacks is the author and main character in the essays. He becomes passionate about swimming at Oxford. This led to him finding the house he lived in for 20 years once he moved to New York. Oliver is a dedicated person with a passion for many things, including multiple physical pursuits. He puts this dedication toward his work in medicine and writing; this is why he was able to publish so many well-received books on such a variety of topics. Oliver uses his essays to give credit to the things he loves and seems to hope that others will love them as well. He traces his years through time spent in museums, libraries, medical rooms, and bodies of water. He speaks at length about his love of books and his concern that they're going away in the age of modern technology.

Oliver's parents:

Oliver's father was a swimming champion who loved it more than anything else. He's a person whose attitude encourages Oliver to go after what he wants. He was born in Lithuania and owned a motorbike at some point during Oliver's childhood. He's deceased by the time Oliver is writing about him, and Oliver remembers him with a blend of humor and sorrow. Oliver's mother would take her children to the science museum to show them the mining lamp her father had made. This is part of what ignited some of Oliver's many interests as well.

Michael:

Michael is one of Sack's three brothers. In the 1940s, he displays psychotic traits. He believes that his thoughts are being read, can't control his expressions, and believed he was in another realm. His story is told as a comparison with the story of Sally Greenberg, who, at 15, has a mental breakdown. She believed she could stop a car with only her willpower. Only a quick friend saved her from being run over. These stories are used to illustrate the mysteries of the human brain and how difficult it can be to determine where and when problems arise.

Uncle Toby:

Uncle Toby is a man whose story Sacks includes to showcase the benefits of modern medicine and the importance of addressing problems quickly. The man's family didn't take him to the doctor even though he exhibited multiple worrying changes in behavior. When he finally went in, it turned out to be a thyroid problem that was treated with medication after seven years of waiting. Unfortunately, he died soon after from a tumor. Uncle Toby's story also makes clear how difficult and deadly a business medicine can be.

Walter:

Walter is a man who visits Oliver after Walter has several surgeries and experiences changes in his personality and behavior. Some of those changes include making him seemingly addicted to internet porn. He ends up being arrested for some of the types of pornography he downloads. He goes to jail but later is much happier and says he's in a good place. His condition is managed with medicine, and he's accepted back into his local community.

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