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 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 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...
(The entire section is 505 words.)