Louise Banks

A linguist and the narrator and protagonist. Louise is an intelligent, sensitive woman, and an accomplished linguist. She narrates the story of meeting and working with the heptapods, and the way this work changes her and her life. As she learns the heptapods’ written language, she develops an awareness of the future.

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Colonel Weber

A Colonel in the United States military. Weber heads up the looking glass site where Louise and Gary work. Weber is a military man through and through. He frets constantly over the defense-related and tactical implications of working with the heptapods.

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Louise’s Daughter

Louise’s future daughter. Louise’s narration is addressed to her future daughter, who remains unnamed throughout the story. Louise’s daughter will be a curious, bright, and fiercely independent person. She develops an early love for climbing and dies at the age of 25 in a climbing accident.


A physicist, Louise’s co-worker, and the father of Louise’s future daughter. Gary works alongside Louise at the looking glass site. His quirky charm attracts Louise and the two develop a relationship outside of their work.

Flapper and Raspberry

The pair of heptapod aliens at the looking glass site. Flapper and Raspberry both cooperate with the humans, showing up every day to answer the humans’ questions. They maintain over and over again that they have come to earth simply “to observe.”


A linguist from the Fort Worth looking glass site. Burghart becomes proficient in the heptapods’ written language and has developed an awareness of the future, just as Louise has. The two linguists sense this about one another but do not voice this fact to one another or reveal it to anyone else.