The Boy Behind the Curtain


Tim Winton

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The Boy Behind the Curtain Characters

Tim Winton

Tim Winton is the protagonist, author, and narrator of The Boy Behind the Curtain. One of Australia’s most celebrated novelists, Winton appears as a child, a young adult, and a grandparent at different points… read analysis of Tim Winton

Tim Winton’s Father

Winton’s father is a policeman who, when Winton is five years old, comes home after a near-fatal motorbike accident looking almost unrecognizable. Because Winton took his father’s strength and reliability for granted, he struggles… read analysis of Tim Winton’s Father

Tim Winton’s Mother

Winton’s mother is the full-time caregiver to Winton and his three siblings. When Winton’s father comes home from the hospital with barely any physical ability following his traffic accident, the weight of her role… read analysis of Tim Winton’s Mother

Tim Winton’s Wife

Winton’s wife is a nurse and the mother of their three children. She works as an oncology nurse at the hospital until the day she gives birth to their eldest son. Winton considers… read analysis of Tim Winton’s Wife

Tim Winton’s Eldest Son

Winton’s eldest son appears as both a child and an adult in The Boy Behind the Curtain. He’s the only one of Winton’s children present when the family spends half a year on… read analysis of Tim Winton’s Eldest Son
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Tim Winton’s Grandfather

Winton’s grandfather is a person about whom Winton hears dozens of colorful stories involving theater and other eccentricities, but by the time Winton is a child, his grandfather drives Betsy, the most embarrassing… read analysis of Tim Winton’s Grandfather

Tim Winton’s Estranged Friend

Winton’s estranged friend appears in the essay “In the Shadow of the Hospital.” He calls Winton to ask him to visit him at Fremantle Hospital, having seen the roof of Winton’s house from his… read analysis of Tim Winton’s Estranged Friend

Motorbike Rider

The motorbike rider appears in the essay “Havoc: A Life in Accidents” when he crashes on the road just ahead of the car young Winton rides in with his father. His crash, and his… read analysis of Motorbike Rider

The Stranger

The stranger appears in the essay “Havoc: A Life in Accidents” as a visitor at the Wintons’ house when Tim Winton’s father is recovering from his motorbike accident. He carries and bathes Winton’s father… read analysis of The Stranger

Elizabeth Jolley

Elizabeth Jolley is one of the most prominent writers in 20th-century Australia and Winton’s writing teacher in college. Though Winton doesn’t immediately warm to Jolley and finds her sense of fashion and obsession with… read analysis of Elizabeth Jolley

Dr Geoff Gallop

Dr Geoff Gallop is the Premier of Western Australia in the early 2000s, the years on which “The Battle for Ningaloo Reef” focuses. His wholehearted efforts to listen to the public and halt plans for… read analysis of Dr Geoff Gallop

Peter Bartlett

Peter Bartlett is the owner of Leap Castle and one day phones Winton out of the blue to offer the castle’s Gate Lodge to him for a half-year writing residency. His generosity and sociability are… read analysis of Peter Bartlett

Peter Matthiessen

Peter Matthiessen is the author of Blue Meridian, the book that chronicles the making of the documentary Blue Water, White Death which Winton searches for but never finds a copy of. Matthiessen researches for… read analysis of Peter Matthiessen

Peter Gimbel

Peter Gimbel is the American filmmaker and diver who directs the documentary Blue Water, White Death, the making of which Peter Matthiessen chronicles in his book Blue Meridian. His ambition and reckless courage… read analysis of Peter Gimbel

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor is Valerie Taylor’s husband and one of the two Australian divers who accompany Peter Gimbel on his documentary expedition to film a great white shark underwater. Matthiessen describes Ron as being sharklike… read analysis of Ron Taylor

Valerie Taylor

Valerie Taylor is Ron Taylor’s wife and one of the two Australian divers who accompany Peter Gimbel on his documentary expedition. She and Ron are something of a celebrity couple in Australia, and Valerie… read analysis of Valerie Taylor
Minor Characters
Tim Winton’s Paternal Grandmother
Winton’s paternal grandmother is a woman whose oddities make her stand out. She lives in a tent outside the house rather than inside with Winton’s grandfather, and greets him by waving her leg. Her habits add to the eccentric reputation Winton’s grandfather cultivates.
Tim Winton’s Maternal Grandmother
Winton’s maternal grandmother appears briefly during the essay “Twice on Sundays,” in which Winton describes his family’s Sunday visits to her house. She berates young Winton for his family’s religious zeal, which demonstrates that his parents’ conversion to Christianity was a bold diversion from their own upbringings.
Martin Copley
Martin Copley is the man who established Mt Gibson Sanctuary, the wildlife reserve Winton visits in the essay “Repatriation.” His genuine care for Australian wildlife and his respect for the scientists working at the sanctuary surprise Winton, who is usually skeptical of philanthropists’ true intentions.
Betsy is the 1954 Hillman Minx car that Winton’s grandfather drives later in his life. Her outdated style and dull coloring embarrass young Winton who, even when looking back nostalgically, cannot find many positive things to say about her.