(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Characters in The Mystic Masseur are either Ganesh's helpers or else adversaries over whom he can triumph. Beharry, a shopkeeper in Fuente Grove, is a helper, one of the few people in town who can read and a person who believes Ganesh is of a higher caste and therefore worthy of cultivation. Leela, Ganesh's wife, is his helper (unless she is irritated with his laziness), as is the Great Belcher, an aunt who gives Ganesh old Hindu books which he uses in his cures.

Ramlogan, Leela's father and a wily shopkeeper, who never fails to pursue his self-interest under the hypocritical guises of friend and father-in-law, is one of Ganesh's chief adversaries. Although Ramlogan makes arrangements for the funeral of Ganesh's father, it is with the goal of capturing Ganesh, a person of higher caste, as a son-in-law. Under the guise of friend, Ramlogan, who pretends to be "modern" like Ganesh, seeks to dispense with a dowry. Ganesh, while something of a fool throughout the novel, nonetheless sees through Ramlogan's plan and forces money out of him through the manipulation of Eastern and Western traditions. During a ceremony in which the bridegroom is ceremonially bribed to eat kedgeree, Ganesh forces Ramlogan's generosity. Later, Ganesh writes a newspaper article about Ramlogan's great gift in establishing a cultural center in the nearly treeless Fuente Grove which again squeezes Ramlogan's purse.

Indarsingh, a Trinidadian educated at Oxford, and Narayan, a critic of Ganesh's later success, are Ganesh's adversaries in the political arena. Indarsingh loses an election to Ganesh because his acquired British identity causes him to totally misread Trinidad's Indian population. To defeat his former Queens College...

(The entire section is 706 words.)