Though the book has no true protagonist, a large portion of Boo’s narrative follows the life of Abdul Husain, a teenage Muslim boy who works as a trash and recyclables trader in the Mumbai slum… (read full character analysis)
Called “One-Leg” by the residents of Annawadi due to a birth defect that left her leg twisted and unusable, Fatima struggles all her life to find a sense of self-worth after being treated as useless… (read full character analysis)
Abdul’s mother and the true head of the Husain family. Zehrunisa wishes that she could fulfill the role of wife and mother that is expected of Muslim women, but she has been forced to work… (read full character analysis)
A hard-working, driven, and very clever woman in Annawadi, Asha aspires to be the first woman slumlord for the Shiv Sena party. Asha dedicates all her time to making money through bribes from the other… (read full character analysis)
A young trash picker who often sells garbage to Abdul. Sunil wishes he could earn enough to afford proper food, and is very upset that his growth has been stunted by his hard childhood… (read full character analysis)
Known as the "blinky boy" in Annawadi due to his copious health problems, Sonu is a scavenger who tries to convince Sunil to be more hygienic, hard-working and honest. Sonu acts as Sunil’s partner until… (read full character analysis)
The daughter of one of the Tamil families who built the slum, Meena is a teenager who longs to have a life and education of her own like her best friend Manju. Yet Meena… (read full character analysis)
A thief in Annawadi who makes deals with the police to locate and secure stolen goods. Kalu’s good humor makes him popular among the slum residents, especially Abdul and Sunil, yet the officials do… (read full character analysis)
Abdul’s father, Karam is a sickly man who suffers too much from tuberculosis to work in the garbage business that would sustain his family. Karam wants to give off the image of being the hard-working… (read full character analysis)
Abdul’s older sister. Kehkashan acts as a second mother to all the Husain children. During the course of the book, she returns home from her arranged marriage after her new husband turns out to be… (read full character analysis)
Abdul’s younger brother, who dislikes working with garbage and hopes to have a clean job working as a waiter in a hotel. Mirchi is able to continue school past ninth grade, a privilege Abdul envies… (read full character analysis)
Asha’s son, a cheerful, popular boy who dreams of working in a fancy hotel. Rahul is Mirchi’s best friend, even though Rahul is Hindu and belongs to the Shiv Sena party that hates low-caste Northern… (read full character analysis)
The Corporator (political representative) of the Shiv Sena party in Annawadi’s ward. He pretends to be low-caste so that he can run in elections meant to help low-caste people earn a voice in government. The… (read full character analysis)
A young thief in Annawadi who is so destroyed by Kalu’s death, the lack of opportunities, and the complete disregard for young men in the slum that he commits suicide.
An old man in Annawadi who wants to raise funds to fix his weak heart so that he can go back to work. He begs Asha for help, but he ultimately doesn’t have enough money to convince her that he is worthy of her attention.
A nun who runs the orphanage near Annawadi.
Fatima’s best friend in Annawadi.
A eunuch who is intact, but feels that he is ¾ girl and ¼ boy. Suraj dances for pleasure, not for money like the other eunuchs. His passion fascinates Manju despite Asha’s distaste for eunuchs.
The “smartest boy” in Annawadi, Prakash is studying economics in college but finds it very difficult to study in the mess of slum life.
A police officer in the Sahar Police Station who works with Asha. Due to Asha’s bribes, Thokale stops the abuse of Abdul and Karam in prison.
A poor, orphaned girl in Annawadi who sometimes helps Fatima.
A Hindu man who speaks to the boys at Dongri juvenile detention center, shaming them – especially Abdul – into living more virtuous lives.
Sunil’s younger sister.
Asha’s husband, a drunkard who lets Asha run the household.
Fatima’s eight-year-old daughter who witnesses Fatima’s burning.
A middle-class student that Manju has a crush on in her Indian Civil Defense Corps, though Manju knows there is no future for them.