Dr. Aziz (ah-ZEEZ), an amiable, sensitive, and intelligent young Moslem doctor in Chandrapore, India. Ignored and snubbed by the English colony, he nevertheless becomes friendly with three English newcomers to India—Mr. Fielding, Mrs. Moore, and Miss Quested. When he takes them on a tour of the sinister Marabar Caves, Miss Quested becomes separated from the party, and later she accuses him of attempted rape. Jailed and humiliated, he becomes markedly anti-British. After Miss Quested withdraws her charge at his trial, he wants to collect damages, but Fielding dissuades him. Suspicious of Fielding’s motives, he breaks off the friendship. Two years later, the two men meet again, and each realizes that any true communion between them is impossible because of their racial allegiances.
Cecil Fielding, the principal of the Government College, a middle-aged, maverick intellectual who resists the herd instinct of his fellow Englishmen. He has Indian friends; he defends Aziz against the English bigots, and when Miss Quested is ostracized after the trial, he offers her the protection of his home. Tired of the whole situation, he takes a trip to England, marries, and then returns to India, where he finds Aziz less cordial than before.
Adela Quested, a priggish young woman who goes to India to marry Ronald Heaslop; she announces that she is eager to see the real India. Her trip to the Marabar Caves proves disastrous. Thinking that she has been the victim of an attempted attack, she accuses Aziz; however, she shows courage by retracting the charge at his trial. The scandal ruins her prospective marriage and causes her to be avoided by almost everyone. She returns to England alone.
Mrs. Moore, Ronald Heaslop’s mother, a lovely, sensitive old woman who accompanies Miss Quested to India. She has great regard for Dr. Aziz, but at the Marabar Caves, she has a strange psychic experience, an unhappy intuition that life is worthless. When she irritably defends Dr. Aziz to her son, he sends her home, and she dies on the way.
Ronald Heaslop, the self-righteous city magistrate, a man coarsened by life in India. Wishing his mother and fiancée to have nothing to do with the natives, he finds himself in a position where he must reject both to preserve his own standards and vanity.
Professor Godbole, a gentle old teacher at the college, a friend of Dr. Aziz and Fielding. He represents the Hindu mystical aspects of India as opposed to the narrower nationalisms of the Moslems and British.
The Nawab Bahadur
The Nawab Bahadur, a wealthy Moslem who, acting as an unofficial diplomat between the Moslems and English, does favors for the whites. When Dr. Aziz is tried, he rejects the British.
Hamidullah, Dr. Aziz’s well-to-do, Anglophobic uncle, a Cambridge barrister who conducts his nephew’s defense.
Mahmoud Ali, a family friend of Hamidullah and Dr. Aziz. Cynical and embittered toward the English, he makes an emotional, histrionic defense of Dr. Aziz at the trial.
Mohammed Latif, a poor, sneaky relative of Hamidullah and Aziz.
Major Callendar, the civil surgeon, Dr. Aziz’s brutal superior, who believes that “white is right.”
Mr. Turton, a white official who is willing to extend courtesy to the natives and nothing more; a man who has succumbed to power and race snobbery.
Mrs. Turton, his haughty wife, who comforts Adela Quested after the incident at the Marabar Caves.
Mr. McBryde, the chief of police, an intelligent man who treats Dr. Aziz decently but at the same time supervises the prosecution. He is provincial in his attitudes.
Miss Derek, a selfish young woman who takes advantage of her Indian employers.
Amritrao, Dr. Aziz’s defense lawyer, imported from Calcutta, who gets Miss Quested to withdraw her charges.
Mr. Das, Heaslop’s subordinate, the judge at the trial, a Hindu who later becomes friendly with Dr. Aziz.
Ralph Moore, Mrs. Moore’s odd son, a boy who finally gets Cecil Fielding and Dr. Aziz together again.
Stella Moore, Mrs. Moore’s daughter, a sensitive girl who marries Cecil Fielding.
Dr. Aziz—Muslim surgeon, works under Major Callendar; accused by Miss Quested; becomes a friend of Fielding.
Hamidullah—Muslim friend and relative by marriage of Aziz, prominent Chandrapore barrister; aspires to social contact with the English but is aware of the difficulties.
Mahmoud Ali—Muslim lawyer, friend of Hamidullah and Aziz; a troublemaker who is constantly spreading malicious rumors.
Mohammed Latif—Muslim, poor relation of Hamidullah, neither servant nor equal.
Mrs. Moore—Older woman, sensitive to the soul of India, friendly to Aziz and Miss Quested, mother of Ronny Heaslop, later becomes known as a Hindu Goddess; Esmiss Esmoor.
Major Callendar—The civil surgeon, Aziz’s superior but not as good a doctor, disrespectful toward Indians and ignorant of Indian life.
Ronny Heaslop—The city magistrate, Mrs. Moore’s son, insecure, wants to do his duty but bewildered by India; becomes Miss Quested’s fiancé.
Miss Adela Quested—Intellectual, considered unattractive, thinks with her head rather than her heart, close to Mrs. Moore; becomes engaged to Ronny Heaslop, accuser of Aziz, confides in Fielding.
Mr. Turton—The collector, a civil servant.
Mrs. Turton—Insensitive, used to giving orders, at first conventionally prejudiced, later furiously authoritarian and vengeful.
Cyril Fielding—Principal of Government College at Chandrapore; looked down on by Anglo-Indians, becomes friend of Aziz, helps Miss Quested after the trial, later marries Mrs. Moore’s daughter, Stella.
Nawab Bahadur—Muslim, referred to as the “geyser,” wealthy proprietor and philanthropist, grandfather of Nureddin, haunted by a ghost.
Mr. Ram Chand—Hindu associate of Dr. Panna Lal.
Mr. Graysford and Mr. Sorley—Anglo-Indian missionaries.
Miss Nancy Derek—Assistant to a Maharani in Native State, crude, talkative, makes fun of Indians, having an affair with the magistrate, McBryde.
McBryde—District Superintendent of Police, tough-minded, most reflective and best educated of the officials.
Mrs. McBryde—His wife.
Mr. and Mrs. Bhattacharya—Hindus of some wealth and status.
Dr. Panna Lal—Low-caste Hindu, fellow-assistant but not friend of Aziz, something of a caricature.
A Subaltern—Anglo-Indian army officer of lower rank.
Professor Narayan Godbole—Hindu, a Deccani Brahmin of the highest caste, elderly, scholarly; his name suggests “God man of God,” a philosopher and devotee of Shri Krishna, acquaintance of Aziz and his Muslim friends, and of Fielding.
Mr. Harris—The Eurasian chauffer.
Krishna—An attendant in Heaslop’s office.
Nureddin—The Nawab Bahadur’s grandson, at first beautiful, later mutilated in an accident.
Syed Mohammed—An engineer.
Mr. Haq—Indian police inspector, at first friendly with Aziz, later arrests him.
Rafi—Student of Fielding’s, called the “Sherlock Holmes of Chandrapore” because of his love of gossip and rumor.
Antony—Servant of Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested, considers himself of a higher class than other servants.
A Young Mother—Blonde Englishwoman; symbolizes British womanhood.
Mr. Amritrao—Oxford-educated Calcutta barrister, notoriously anti-British; Aziz’s lawyer at the trial.
Lady Mellanby—Wife of the lieutenant-governor of the providence.
Sir Gilbert Mellanby—Lieutenant governor of the providence.
The punkah-wallah—A fan attendant, divinely beautiful, does not speak, a force of nature.
Mr. Das—Hindu judge nominally in charge of Aziz’s trial; Heaslop’s assistant.
Shri Krishna—Hindu deity, incarnate god of love and wisdom; center of Gokul Ashtami festival in celebration of his August birthday.
Major Roberts—The new civil surgeon.
Young Milner—The new city magistrate.
Rajah of Mau—Hindu ruler of an independent Native State where Dr. Aziz and Professor Godbole are living at the end of the novel.
Colonel Maggs—British political agent in Mau who attempts to harass Aziz.
Ralph Moore—Mrs. Moore’s son, Stella’s brother, Fielding’s brother-in-law, intimidated and then embraced by Aziz.
Stella (Moore) Fielding—Mrs. Moore’s daughter, then Fielding’s wife, she is spiritually in tune with India and inwardly tranquil.
Jemila, Ahmed, and Karim—Aziz’s children.