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Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein

Characters

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

Valentine Michael Smith  -  Human born on Mars to two Earth explorers aboard the spaceship Champion. Orphaned as an infant, Mike is raised by the Martian race. He grows up with human physiology but Martian psychology. When he is brought to Earth as an adult, age twenty-five, he brings knowledge of telekinesis and mind reading abilities, as well as a Martian worldview utterly removed from anything in Earth culture. Mike develops a deep curiosity about Earthling ways, and he endeavors to understand the human concepts that he has been raised without, such as jealousy, lust, showmanship, fiction, and religion.

Read an in-depth analysis of Valentine Michael Smith.

Jubal Harshaw  -  A famous doctor, lawyer, and writer. He has lived a long life, full of adventure and accomplishment, and now leads a comfortable lifestyle in his estate with his secretaries and assistants. Although he has tired of fighting against corrupt institutions and prefers to spend his old age catering to his own desires, when he meets Mike, he relishes the opportunity to once again take on the authorities. Jubal espouses an individualist philosophy that is very influential on Mike, who comes to think of Jubal as a father.

Read an in-depth analysis of Jubal Harshaw.

Gillian Boardman  -  A courageous and confident young nurse. Her friend and old flame, newspaper reporter Ben Caxton, convinces her to help him rescue Mike from his enforced captivity at her hospital. Her nurturing attachment to Mike grows into a profound understanding.

Read an in-depth analysis of Gillian Boardman.

Ben Caxton  -  A newspaper reporter who writes a muckraking political column that has earned him the ire of the Earth's government. Ben is driven partially by a newspaperman's inherent lust for a scintillating story, and partially by a passion for social justice. Despite his liberal politics, he has difficulty accepting the untraditional sexual practices of the church that Mike founds. Ben longs for an old-fashioned marriage to Jill.
Anne, Miriam, and Dorcas  -  The three beautiful and extremely competent secretaries under the employ of Jubal Harshaw who live in his estate with him. Anne is also a Fair Witness, a professional, official observer of important events. Dorcas is the most squeamish and flirtatious of the three.
Secretary General Joseph Douglas  -  The leader of the Earth's government. Douglas worries that his power is under threat, and endeavors to maneuver Mike to his political advantage. Douglas is a consummate politician, at ease with the tremendous power, responsibility, and pressures of his position. The one person who has influence over him is his domineering wife Agnes.
Agnes Douglas  -  Secretary General Douglas' domineering wife. Agnes is a staunch devotee of astrology and often forces her husband to base important decisions on the advice of her astrologist, Madame Vesant.
Patty Paiwonski  -  A devout Fosterite. Patty works in a traveling carnival displaying the head- to-toe tattoos applied by her late husband. She longs to share the joy she has learned from Foster and, later, Mike. She is a natural nurturer.
Madame Alexandra Vesant  -  An acquaintance of Jubal's from decades earlier when she had worked under a master astrologer. Becky Vesey has taken on the professional name Madame Vesant and become an astrologer herself, catering to wealthy customers. Her primary avocation is investing her earnings in the stock market.
Dawn Ardent  -  A famed stripper and a major presence in the Fosterite organization. Dawn harbors a crush on Jubal, of whose writings she has long been enamored.
Bishop Digby  -  The Supreme Bishop of the Fosterite sect. Digby had risen to his position by poisoning Foster, though his followers do not know this. Digby is a great salesman, who has discovered untraditional ways, such as encouraging gambling and employing celebrities, to promote the word of his church.
The Reverend Foster  -  A savvy and slick self-styled prophet who had drawn people to his teachings through showmanship. His followers are called Fosterites.
Dr. "Stinky" Mahmoud  -  A semantician on the Envoy mission to Mars who studies the Martian language. Mahmoud is a devout Muslim, raised in proper English society.
Duke and Larry  -  Jubal's employees, who keep things running smoothly at his estate. Duke is an engineer, in charge of keeping all of the technical gadgetry in working order.
Captain Willem van Tromp  -  Captain of the Envoy mission that discovers Mike on Mars.
James Oliver Cavendish  -  A famous and respected Fair Witness. His job is to be brought into any given situation and retain detailed memories of everything that happens as objectively as possible. It is part of Cavendish's professional credo to never interfere in any of the occurrences that he is employed to observe.
Gilbert Berquist  -  A high-level assistant to Secretary General Douglas, it is Berquist's job to deal covertly with the administration's less savory problems.
Thomas Mackenzie  -  A "stereovision," a futuristic kind of television, network executive and old friend of Jubal's.
Senator Boone  -  A power hungry Senator and powerful Fosterite.
Dr. Nelson  -  The medical doctor aboard the Envoy crew who is Mike's primary doctor on Earth.
Ruth and Sam  -  An unhappily married Jewish couple. Sam and Ruth join Mike's Church of All Worlds because Sam wants to learn the Martian language. They end up rediscovering their love for each other and becoming high level church members.
Abigail Zenobia and Fatima Michele  -  The babies born toAnne and Miriam respectively. Their paternity is ambiguous, though Jubal suspects that Abigail was fathered by Mike, and Fatima by either Mike or Mahmoud, who is married to Miriam when she has the baby.

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Apollo =/= Mars

by Brags753, July 10, 2013

The summary incorrectly states that Apollo is the Greek "word" for Mars. Actually, Ares is the Greek name for the god known as Mars in Latin.

Apollo is one of the few classical gods known by nearly the same name in Greek and Latin. In English, he is called Apollo in both contexts.

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