One of the twins and protagonists of the novel, Rahel is an energetic, imaginative girl. She and Estha are so close as to almost consider themselves one person, though their appearances and personalities are different… (read full character analysis)
The other twin and protagonist, Estha is more serious and well-behaved than Rahel, and he also experiences more of the harshness of the world at an early age. Estha is molested by the Orangedrink Lemondrink… (read full character analysis)
The mother of the twins, an independent woman who is both a loving mother and has an “unsafe edge.” Ammu was beaten cruelly by Pappachi as a child, so she grew up with a natural… (read full character analysis)
Pappachi’s younger sister, a staunch Syrian Christian who loves Father Mulligan when she is young. Baby Kochamma then grows into a bitter, jealous woman who betrays Ammu and the twins to save herself. When… (read full character analysis)
A Paravan (Untouchable) who grew up with Ammu and is very skilled with his hands. He is an excellent carpenter and fixes all the machines in the pickle factory, but is still treated as second-class… (read full character analysis)
The mother of Chacko and Ammu, a violinist and pickle-maker who sees the world in strict divisions of class, wealth, and caste. She endures Pappachi’s violence without complaint, but after Chacko stops Pappachi, Mammachi comes to love Chacko with an almost sexual love.
The daughter of Chacko and Margaret Kochamma, Sophie is beloved by all the Ipes because of her whiteness and beauty. The twins befriend her for the short period before her death. Her visit is the setting for most of the novel’s action.
Chacko’s English wife and Sophie Mol’s mother. Her parents don’t approve of her marriage to Chacko, and she later leaves him for Joe.
The cook of the Ipe family, an extremely short, bad-tempered woman who comes to share in Baby Kochamma’s TV addiction.
Velutha’s father, an Untouchable with a glass eye that the Ipes paid for. Though he loves his son, he is willing to kill Velutha to fulfill his social obligation.
Comrade K. N. M. Pillai
The ambitious leader of the Communist Party in Ayemenem. He is an opportunistic man who prints labels for Chacko’s pickle factory while also trying to convince Chacko’s laborers to revolt.
The father of Rahel and Estha, and ex-husband of Ammu. After marrying him, Ammu learns that he is an alcoholic and compulsive liar. He tries to prostitute Ammu to his boss in order to keep his job and later grows abusive, and then Ammu leaves with the children.
Inspector Thomas Mathew
A police inspector of Kerala who sends the officers to beat Velutha. When it seems like Velutha might be innocent, he tells Baby Kochamma’s that the twins will have to implicate Velutha or else he will charge Baby with the crime.
The Orangedrink Lemondrink Man
An ugly older man who works in the movie theater and molests Estha.
Velutha’s paralyzed brother.
Comrade Pillai’s son.
An Irish missionary that Baby Kochamma loves unrequitedly. He comes to India to refute Hinduism, but ends up becoming a Hindu himself.
Rahel’s ex-husband from Boston.
The man Margaret Kochamma leaves Chacko for. He dies in an accident.
Not a real character, a twin that Velutha invents to pretend he wasn’t in the Communist march, and that the twins then use to avoid thinking about Velutha’s death.
An Englishman who “went native” and lived in the “History House.”
Reverend E. John Ipe (Punnyan Kunju)
The father of Baby Kochamma and Pappachi, a minister who was famous for having been blessed by the Patriarch of Antioch.
Dr. Verghese Verghese
A doctor who treats children and sexually harasses their mothers.
Baby Kochamma’s Australian missionary friend who dislikes the twins.
An insane man who sits on a milestone, counting his keys.
Comrade E. M. S. Namboodiripad
The leader of the Communist Party in Kerala.
The Ayemenem temple elephant.
The wife of Comrade Pillai. She is beautiful, and dutiful and obedient to her husband.
Comrade Pillai's niece.
A night watchmen at the Paradise Pickle's factory.