The Memory Keeper's Daughter Characters

Kim Edwards

List of Characters

Dr. Bentley—doctor who works with David.

David Henry (McCallister)—main character, husband of Norah, father of Paul and Phoebe.

June McCallister—David's sister who died young.

Norah Asher—Henry wife of David, part of story is told from her perspective.

Howard—Norah's first lover whom she met in Aruba.

Sam—another one of Norah's lovers.

Brigitte "Bree" Asher—Norah's sister, who is vibrant and outgoing, the opposite of Norah.

Mark Bell—one of Bree's boyfriends, a Vietnam veteran who lost part of his foot in the war.

Paul Henry—son of Norah and David, brother of Phoebe, a guitarist.

Phoebe Henry (Gill)—daughter who David gives away, girl with Down Syndrome whom Caroline Gill raises.

Caroline Gill—nurse, who worked for David and raised Phoebe.

Albert "Al" Simpson—truck driver who marries Caroline and helps to raise Phoebe.

Lucy Martin—nosey woman who lives in Caroline's apartment building.

Robert—young man with Down Syndrome who loves Phoebe.

Lauren Young—girl with whom Paul has sex.

Duke Madison—young pianist friend of Paul who introduces Paul to marijuana.

Dorothy "Doro" March—hires Caroline in Pittsburgh and shares her home with Caroline.

Leo March—father of Doro, somewhat senile, retired professor whom Caroline takes care of.

Trace—Doro's man friend whom she later marries.

Sandra—woman who befriends Caroline in Pittsburgh.

Tim—Sandra's son who has Down Syndrome.

Michelle—young woman living with Paul.

Rosemary—young woman living in David's West Virginia abandoned family home. David brings her home to Kentucky with him. She is pregnant.



Character Analysis

Most of The Memory Keeper's Daughter is told through the experience of David Henry, the orthopedic surgeon and husband of Norah. This is only fair, since it is David's lie about his daughter, Phoebe, which drives the story and eventually destroys his marriage. David came from a dirt-poor family, all of whom are dead by the time the novel opens. David is scarred by this poverty and determined to provide his family with all the luxuries they might ever crave. This leads him down the path of a workaholic. He is also a perfectionist, who is constantly reading medical journals. David also has a fatal flaw, one other part of his personality that is a result of his family background.

June, David's sister was born with a heart condition. His family, the McCallisters (David later drops his family name), could not afford medical help for June. David's mother is drained by the experience of having to take care of her sickly child. The family is devastated when June dies young. David decides to commit himself to his studies so he can heal the world. But because of his background with June, when he sees the signs of Down Syndrome in his own daughter at birth, he immediately decides that the best thing to do for his wife is to say the daughter has been born dead. This decision, quickly made at the height of emotion, turns out to be fatal, at least on a psychological basis, for him and his wife.

Another flaw that David exhibits is his belief that emotions will weaken him. He has been taught, through the study of science, to keep his emotions at bay. He does this by reciting the Periodic Table from memory whenever his emotions rise. David is afraid that he will not be able to function if he allows his emotions to be expressed. This separates him from his wife and children. Although he deeply loves them, he has problems sharing those feelings with them. They in turn come to believe that David has no feelings at all.

The second major character in this story is Norah, David's wife. A major portion of the story is also told through Norah's...

(The entire section is 879 words.)