Arjun Chelvaratnam, called “Arjie” by his friends and family members, is the narrator and protagonist of Funny Boy. A Sri Lankan Tamil raised in Colombo with his sister Sonali and brother Diggy, Arjie… (read full character analysis)
Arjie’s Amma (the Tamil word for “mother”) is loving and close to her son; although she has a strong sense of right and wrong, she often chooses not to voice it, but she is… (read full character analysis)
Arjie’s distant, authoritative, and successful father (“Appa” is the Tamil word for “father”). Although he is a brother to Mala Aunty, Kanthi Aunty, Radha Aunty (among others), Appa seldom appears in the… (read full character analysis)
Appa’s younger sister, who comes back to Sri Lanka when Arjie is seven. She is engaged to Rajan Nagendra, whom she met during her four years studying in America. However, she is nothing… (read full character analysis)
A burgher journalist who grew up in Sri Lanka with Amma but has been living in Australia for more than a decade. In the chapter “See No Evil, Hear No Evil,” Daryl Uncle visits in… (read full character analysis)
The cruel, traditionalist principal of Victoria Academy. Universally feared by the students, Black Tie is often seen wearing an old-school British colonial outfit, overlooking Victoria Academy from the balcony next to his office. When a… (read full character analysis)
Another student at Victoria Academy and Arjie’s first real love interest. Initially, Shehan helps protect Arjie from Salgado’s bullying; they exchange smiles and Arjie immediately feels attracted to Shehan’s charisma, confidence, and long… (read full character analysis)
Arjie’s overbearing, opinionated, cruel, racist grandmother, who punishes Arjie excessively for fighting with Her Fatness and tries to break up her daughter Radha Aunty’s budding romance with the Sinhalese Anil by sending her… (read full character analysis)
An old burgher woman who directs the production of The King and I that Arjie and Rahda Aunty join. During Radha’s conflict over whether to marry Anil or Rajan, Doris encourages to think her… (read full character analysis)
A likable, friendly Sinhalese boy who acts in The King and I with Rahda Aunty and Arjie. He starts out by shamelessly hitting on Radha, joking about pollinating flowers and offering her rides home… (read full character analysis)
Chithra Aunty’s husband and a family friend of Amma and Appa; all four go out together for formal dinners, shows, and parties in Colombo when Appa buys the Paradise Beach Resort. During the… (read full character analysis)
Sena Uncle’s wife and Amma’s best friend, who goes out with her frequently both when Appa is in Sri Lanka and while he is on vacation in Europe, and who often accompanies the… (read full character analysis)
The Sinhalese vice principal of Victoria Academy, who is allegedly poised to take the principal position from Black Tie due to his extensive political connections. Mr. Lokubandara’s docile and mild-mannered personality belies his explicit preference… (read full character analysis)
Tanuja, Kanthi Aunty and Cyril Uncle’s young daughter, gets nicknamed “Her Fatness” by the rest of her cousins. Self-serving, spoiled, and unpopular, she manipulates the family into letting her play the prestigious role of… (read full character analysis)
A servant boy who works in Daryl Uncle’s house. When Arjie and Amma stop by during their search for the missing Daryl, they encounter his room in shambles, and Somaratne disappears soon thereafter, leading… (read full character analysis)
Arjie’s boisterous, athletic older brother, whose conventional masculinity contrasts with Arjie’s effeminacy. The family encourages Arjie to follow in Diggy’s shoes, for instance by playing cricket with the boys during the family’s “spend-the-days” and… (read full character analysis)
Arjie’s grandfather on his father’s side, a quiet and steadfast old man who seldom interacts with his grandchildren. During the riots at the end of the book in 1983, he and Ammachi have their… (read full character analysis)
Ammachi and Appachi’s overworked Sinhalese servant, who is responsible for cooking for everyone and looking after the children during the family’s monthly spend-the-days. While she is generally too stressed out to play with the… (read full character analysis)
One of Arjie’s cousins, a girl who plays with the boys’ group (much as he plays with the girls). She and Arjie’s brother Diggy struggle for power among the boys, and they both try… (read full character analysis)
A bigoted Sinhalese man who threatens Rahda Aunty and Arjie for being Tamil, suggesting that the Sinhalese are on the verge of kicking the Tamils out of Sri Lanka. He is furious about his… (read full character analysis)
A Tamil man whom Radha Aunty meets in America and plans to marry “because he’s an engineer and he doesn’t have insanity in his family.” Although she nearly leaves him for Anil Jayasinghe, Radha ends up marrying Rajan after a Sinhalese mob attacks her train.
The Banduratne Mudalali
A wealthy and powerful Sinhalese man who owns most of the hotels in the same town where Appa’s Paradise Beach Resort is located. He orchestrates violent riots against Tamils, including the threats against Arjie’s family after Jegan comes to work at Appa’s hotel.
A Sinhalese bully at Victoria Academy who openly targets and voices his hatred for Tamils, including Arjie. He is a favorite of the Sinhala nationalist vice principal Mr. Lokubandara, who lets Salgado do whatever he wants. However, Shehan manages to save Arjie from much of Salgado’s bullying.
Victoria Academy’s English and Drama teacher, whose understanding and humble manner stands in stark contrast to Black Tie’s cruelty and arrogance, and who first encourages Arjie to recite poetry at Black Tie’s award ceremony.
Perera Uncle and Aunty
A neighboring family whose house shares a backyard wall with Arjie’s. When a mob comes in the night to kill them and burn down their house, Arjie and his family hide out in the Pereras’ storeroom until the morning.
The least popular of Appa’s siblings, husband to Cyril Uncle and mother to Her Fatness. Kanthi Aunty is nosy, racist, and overprotective of her daughter.
Kanthi Aunty’s husband, who calls Arjie “funny” in front of the whole family after Kanthi finds the boy wearing a sari for the girls’ game of “bride-bride.”
Arjie’s male cousin, who plays cricket on Diggy’s team.
Arjie’s sensitive, playful younger sister.
A servant woman who lives and works with Arjie’s family.
The manager at the Paradise Beach Resort, Appa’s hotel.
Appa’s younger sister, a doctor who is very levelheaded compared to her siblings.