Half the Sky Characters

The main characters in Half the Sky are Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

  • Nicholas D. Kristof is a journalist and one of the authors of Half the Sky. Like his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, Kristof is both part of the narrative voice and a third-person character in the book.
  • Sheryl WuDunn, also a journalist, is the other author of Half the Sky. WuDunn is married to Kristof and sometimes uses her gender to explore environments that Kristof cannot.

Download Half the Sky Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Characters

Nicholas D. Kristof

Kristof, referred to as Nick throughout the book, is a New York Times op-ed columnist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He appears in a third-person character role in several chapters, making him both an active participant and one part of an observer pair.

Sheryl WuDunn

Sheryl WuDunn is an editor, a columnist, and “the first Asian-American to win a Pulitzer.” She appears less frequently in the third person than Kristof, but like him, she leverages her gender to gain access to restricted environments, like the locker room of a “men’s club” in Hong Kong.

Srey Rath

Srey Rath, a Cambodian girl who fell victim to a sex trafficking operation at age fifteen, impresses the authors with her playful personality and mental fortitude. She is “small-boned, pretty, vibrant, and bubbly,” with a sense of confidence and trust that belies the trauma she has experienced. Her story exemplifies the power of workforce training to help women recover from trauma.

Meena Hasina

Meena has spent most of her life under the control of the Nutt, “a low-caste tribe” that runs the region’s prostitution scheme. Once a sex slave herself, she was successful in her effort to free her children from the brothel where they were born. Now she is viewed with suspicion by her neighbors in Forbesgunge, India, where she represents a threat to the livelihood of traffickers, brothel owners, and corrupt policemen alike.

Ainul Bibi

Ainul Bibi is the “tyrant” and “matriarch” responsible for the girls who are held captive in her family’s brothel. Despite having been sold into prostitution at a young age herself, she lacks sympathy for the suffering she imposes upon her victims, including her own daughters.

Ruchira Gupta

Ruchira Gupta is a former journalist and the founder of Apne Aap Women Worldwide. She uses her personal connections with national officials to pressure corrupt local police officers to enforce anti-trafficking laws. Ruchira is one of few leaders willing to fight for women in Bihar, an Indian state known for its lawlessness.

Frank Grijalva

Frank Grijalva is the principal of the Overlake School, a prestigious private school located in a wealthy Seattle suburb. His post-9/11 effort to immerse his students in a meaningful public service project led to their creation of the “Overlake School in Cambodia,” which serves nearly three hundred underprivileged children. He considers the school to be the “most meaningful and worthwhile” project of his career.

Kun Sokkea

After her father passed away from AIDS and her mother fell ill “with the same disease,” it appeared that thirteen-year-old Kun Sokkea would have to get a job to support her siblings. Instead, her family was given an attendance-contingent cash transfer of ten dollars per month. Although it was not enough to lift them out of poverty, this reliable source of income made it more difficult for traffickers to prey upon their desperation.

Usha Narayane

When college-educated Usha Narayane resisted mob rule in India’s Kasturba Nagar slum, she unwittingly set off a community revolt against neighborhood criminals and the corrupt policemen who protected them. She became “the heroine of the slum,” trading a profitable job for a leadership role in her community. Her story illustrates the effect of education on female empowerment in highly stratified societies.

Akku Yadav

For more than a decade, Indian mob boss Akku Yadav brutalized the residents of Kasturba Nagar. Using “sexual humiliation” as a weapon, he exacted...

(The entire section is 1,197 words.)