The Indian in the Cupboard

by Lynne Reid Banks

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The Indian in the Cupboard Characters

The main characters in The Indian in the Cupboard are Omri, Patrick, and Little Bear.

  • Omri is the novel’s nine-year-old protagonist. Smart, resourceful, and empathic, he takes good care of the living figurines, who he realizes are real people.
  • Patrick is Omri’s close friend and classmate. He uses Omri’s cupboard to bring his toy cowboy, Boone, to life and later nearly gives away the boys’ secret.
  • Little Bear is Omri’s toy Indian who comes to life. He is a member of the Iroquois tribe, a chief’s son, and a fierce warrior.


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Last Updated on June 7, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 888


Omri is the protagonist of the novel. He is a young boy who lives in England with his parents and two older brothers. On his ninth birthday, he is given two things which change his life—a small metal cupboard and a plastic figure of an Indian. After using his mother’s key to lock the Indian inside the cupboard, he finds that the toy has come to life.

Omri proves to be an intelligent and resourceful young boy who is able to take good care of the tiny living figures the cupboard produces. He also quickly figures out that it is his mother’s ribboned key which holds the magic. While the experience proves to be fun and exciting for Omri, however, he eventually realizes that he is far from capable of being responsible for other human beings, miniscule though they may be. In the end, Omri learns to truly empathize with the living figurines and sends them back to their time.


Patrick is Omri’s close friend from school. The two are in the same grade and so see each other every school day. Patrick gives Omri the plastic figure of an Indian as a birthday gift.

Although the two have been friends for years, Patrick and Omri have many disagreements, especially concerning the cupboard and the plastic figures. As the more reckless and excitable of the two, Patrick wishes to use the cupboard for play and even to share the magic with others. He is not attuned to Omri’s anxiety that someone will take the cupboard from him. Eventually, the two resolve their differences, and Patrick learns to respect human life the way Omri does.

Little Bear

Little Bear is the small plastic figure of an Indian who comes to life inside Omri’s cupboard. He introduces himself as Little Bear of the Iroquois tribe, the son of the chief. Although initially wary of Omri, he grows to accept Omri as a giant “Great Spirit” who is there to provide for him with his magic.

Provided with the needed materials, Little Bear is able to build a longhouse all on his own. Apart from being a skilled builder, he is also good with a bow and arrows. Although he is fierce and strong-willed, Little Bear humbles himself and repents after shooting the cowboy, Boone.


Boone is a plastic figure of a cowboy which Patrick buys to give to Omri. Omri declines, however, and Patrick soon uses Omri’s cupboard to give Boone and his horse life. After lashing out at Omri and Patrick, whom he interprets to be malevolent hallucinations, Boone spends his time moping. When Omri earns his trust, Boone tells him that his nickname is “Boohoo,” as he is easily moved to tears. He also informs Omri that he is from the year 1889.

Although Boone and Little Bear are initially hostile toward each other, they end up becoming blood brothers.


Adiel is Omri’s eldest brother. He gives Omri a skateboarding helmet for his birthday. Although he does not appear much in the novel, he is indirectly responsible for the loss of Omri’s ribboned key. In order to punish Omri for allegedly stealing his football shorts, he hides the cupboard in the attic—losing the key in the process. He eventually apologizes to Omri after discovering that the shorts were in his room all along.


Gillon is the second eldest brother in Omri’s family. Because his parents have revoked his pocket money privileges, he is forced to scavenge for Omri’s birthday gift. He ends up giving Omri a small metal cupboard, which Omri is delighted with.


(This entire section contains 888 words.)

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Adiel, Gillon does not play a large part in the novel. Toward the end of the story, however, Gillon’s escaped pet rat serves as a significant threat to Little Bear, who is tasked with retrieving the key under the floorboards. 


Omri’s mother is a kind and diligent woman who takes good care of her children. Every night, she goes into Omri’s room to give him a kiss. She is also in charge of waking her children in the morning and cooking all of the family’s meals. In the novel, she is only referred to as “mother.”

Omri receives the ribboned key from his mother, who explains that her beloved grandmother passed it down to her. She asks Omri to take care not to lose it. In the final chapter, Omri returns the key to his mother, who promises to wear it around her neck from then on.


Like Omri’s mother, Omri’s father is never referred to by name. His sternness is something Omri tries to emulate when dealing with Little Bear and Boone’s squabbles. Apart from being firm, Omri’s father is also skillful, as he fixes Omri’s lamp himself.

Although little is shown of Omri’s father, he is characterized as being very passionate about gardening. He constantly worries about his plants and scolds Omri for taking his seed tray.

Bright Stars

Bright Stars is a plastic figurine of an Indian girl which Omri buys for Little Bear. She is brought to life toward the end of the novel and quickly falls in love with Little Bear. She helps Little Bear nurse Boone back to health.