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The Natural

Bernard Malamud

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Characters

Roy Hobbs  -  The tragic hero of The Natural. Roy is gifted with great athletic abilities, but he can never succeed due to a tragic combination of ego, selfish ambition, and naïveté. While still a teenager on his way to the major leagues, Roy is shot by Harriet Bird and nearly killed. More than ten years later, at the age of thirty-five, Hobbs returns to the game; his body has aged, but his mind and heart are the same.

Read an in-depth analysis of Roy Hobbs.

Pop Fisher  -  The long-suffering manager of the New York Knights. Once a great player himself, Pop once made a bad play that cost his team an important game, and he has never recovered from that mistake. He wants nothing more than to lead the Knights to a pennant victory; it is his Holy Grail. The worse the team is doing, the worse Pop's health gets, as we see in his mysterious ailment, "athlete's foot of the hands."

Read an in-depth analysis of Pop Fisher.

Sam Simpson  -  The scout who first discovers Roy. Unfortunately, Sam dies on the way to Hobbs' first tryout, and is therefore not present to prevent Hobbs from being attacked by Harriet Bird. Sam acts as a kind of father figure to Roy.
Wonderboy  -  Something of a character itself, Wonderboy is Roy's bat. When Roy was a boy, he came across a tree that had been struck by lightning, and he decided to make a bat out of it. In the mythological world of The Natural, Wonderboy is Roy's Excalibur. It is also an unquestionable phallic symbol; when Roy is in a slump, the bat is said to "sag like a baloney." It is implied that the bat gives Roy extra strength that he might not have had otherwise, allowing him to hit bad pitches.
Red Blow  -  One of the coaches of the New York Knights. Red is one of the first members of the team to take a liking to Roy Hobbs, and he does his best to steer Hobbs clear of trouble.
Max Mercy  -  A journalist who delights in exposing the seedy aspects of baseball. Mercy makes it his mission to pry into the private lives of baseball players and put their personal flaws on display. He loves nothing more than seeing a great player brought down.
Memo Paris  -  The spoiled niece of Pop Fisher. Memo is a gorgeous redhead, and Roy swiftly falls in love with her. His infatuation with her, and her refusal to accept his advances, eventually leads to Roy's slump. Memo is an unhappy person, and she is never able to get over the death of her boyfriend, Bump Baily.

Read an in-depth analysis of Memo Paris.

Bump Baily  -  The star of the New York Knights until the arrival of Roy. Bump is a cocky, egotistical, and mean-spirited player who enjoys playing cruel practical jokes on his teammates. While a talented athlete, Bump occasionally tries too hard to rise above and beyond his impressive abilities, resulting in disaster when he cracks his skull while trying to catch a long ball.
Iris Lemon  -  A kind, quiet woman who helps Hobbs snap out of his slump. At thirty-three, Iris is already a grandmother, but she offers Roy the best hope of having a happy life. Unfortunately, Roy refuses her in favor of Memo.

Read an in-depth analysis of Iris Lemon.

Gus Sands  -  A rich and powerful bookie who tries to bribe Hobbs into throwing the final game for the pennant. Gus is a good friend of Memo and, in Hobbs's eyes, a rival.
Harriet Bird  -  A young woman for whom Roy falls while on his way to his first major league tryout. Harriet is actually a murderer who shoots major athletes; after Hobbs strikes out the Whammer, a baseball star, Harriet turns her sights on Hobbs. She later shoots him in a hotel room.
Otto P. Zipp -  A dwarf who attends the Knights' games in order to cheer for Bump Baily. After Bump dies, Zipp refuses to give that same support to Hobbs.
The Whammer  -  A talented but aging baseball player whom Hobbs meets on his way to his first major league tryout. After both the Whammer and Hobbs reveal their prowess at a carnival, Sam Simpson bets the Whammer that Hobbs can strike him out. Hobbs does so, and the Whammer retreats back to the train, now an "old man."
Youngberry -  The young opposing pitcher who strikes Roy out at the end of the novel.

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