Behind the Beautiful Forevers


Katherine Boo

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers Characters

Abdul Husain

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 analysis of Abdul Husain


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 analysis of Fatima

Zehrunisa Husain

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 analysis of Zehrunisa Husain

Asha Waghekar

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 analysis of Asha Waghekar

Manju Waghekar

Asha’s daughter, the seemingly perfect, “most-everything” girl in Annawadi. Manju is going to college to become a teacher and she cares deeply for the other children in Annawadi. In defiance of her mother’s corrupt dreams… read analysis of Manju Waghekar
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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 analysis of Sunil

Sonu Gupta

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 analysis of Sonu Gupta


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 analysis of Meena


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 analysis of Kalu


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 analysis of Karam


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 analysis of Kehkashan


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 analysis of Mirchi

Rahul Waghekar

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 analysis of Rahul Waghekar

Subhash Sawant

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 analysis of Subhash Sawant

Robert Pires

The current slumlord of Annawadi, who is supposed to ensure that the political party Shiv Sena maintains control of the votes in this district. Yet Robert has had a religious awakening and no longer wants… read analysis of Robert Pires
Minor Characters
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.
Mr. Kamble
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.
Sister Paulette
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.
Officer Thokale
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.
The Master
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.