The Lawyer is the unnamed narrator of "Bartleby the Scrivener." He owns a law firm on Wall Street, and he employs four men as scriveners, or copyists: Turkey, Nippers, Ginger Nut, and Bartleby. The Lawyer is about sixty years old. He is level-headed, industrious, and has a good mind for business. He is good at dealing with people, at least until he meets Bartleby.
Bartleby is a young man hired by the Lawyer to serve as a scrivener, or law- copyist. He starts out as an excellent copyist, but when asked to examine his work for errors, he replies that he "would prefer not to." Bartleby soon answers anything he is asked to do with "I would prefer not to," and he slowly drives the Lawyer and his fellow scriveners crazy.
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Turkey is the eldest employee of the Lawyer in "Bartleby the Scrivener." He is a good worker in the morning, but in the afternoon his face becomes flush and he gets a short temper. He makes more mistakes in his work in the afternoon.
Nippers is another scrivener, or law-copyist, employed by the Lawyer in "Bartleby the Scrivener." Nipper is the opposite of his fellow scrivener Turkey; Nipper is young, and he works best in the afternoon. In the morning, he is troubled by stomach problems and a constant need to adjust the height of his desk.
Ginger Nut is the the Lawyer's errand boy in "Bartleby the Scrivener." His name comes from the fact that Turkey, Nippers, and Bartleby often send him to get ginger nut cakes.
Hunilla is the "Chola widow" in "Sketch Eight" of "The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles." She was left on an island along with her husband and her brother for several months by a French whaler. Her husband and she had planned to enjoy their honeymoon on the tropical island. Instead, her husband and brother were killed in a boating accident, leaving Hunilla to fend for herself until the narrator's ship arrived.
Oberlus's story is told in "Sketch Nine" of "The Encantadas." He deserted his ship and became a hermit on Hood's Isle, where he kept a small hut and grew vegetables that he sold to passing ships. He eventually began to desire lordship over other people and kidnapped several sailors. Finally he stole a small boat from a passing ship and used it to return to the mainland, where he was arrested and thrown in jail.
Amasa Delano is the main character of "Benito Cereno." He is the captain of the Bachelor's Delight, a whaling ship from Massachusetts. Delano is a pleasant, good-natured man, slow to become suspicious, but he is not naive.
Benito Cereno is the character after whom the story is named. He is a tall, thin man. He is Chilean, and primarily speaks Spanish, though he knows some English. He is the captain of the San Dominick, a merchant vessel.
Babo is the leader of the slaves in "Benito Cereno." Babo led the slave revolt against the sailors, taking over the San Dominick. For most of "Benito Cereno," Babo masquerades as Cereno's servant. However, he is actually there to keep an eye on Cereno and to make sure that Cereno doesn't betray Babo and the slaves to Captain Delano. Babo is small, but he is wily and intelligent.
Atufal is Babo's main co-conspirator in "Benito Cereno." He is a huge black slave, tall and muscular, and he uses his size and strength to intimidate and threaten Benito Cereno throughout the story.
The owner of the slaves on the San Dominick, and a friend of Benito Cereno. Aranda's death is ordered by Babo.