The Shack


William P. Young

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Mackenzie Allen Phillips

The protagonist of the novel, Mack is a nondescript everyman who has long struggled to reconcile his faith in God with the daily reality before him. As a child, Mack’s father, a violent alcoholic… read analysis of Mackenzie Allen Phillips


Papa is one facet of the three-part God depicted in the novel (the others being Jesus and Sarayu). Papa also calls herself “Elousia,” which Jesus explains means “the Creator God. She fills the role… read analysis of Papa/Elousia


Sarayu fulfils the role of the “Holy Spirit” in the three-part version of God seen in the novel (the other parts being Jesus and Papa). Jesus explains to Mack that her name means “a… read analysis of Sarayu


Jesus is “the son” in the tri-part God depicted in the novel (the other parts being Papa and Sarayu). In some ways, he most closely aligns with Mack’s preconceived image: he is a… read analysis of Jesus


Missy, Nan and Mack’s youngest child, is a lively six-year-old girl who enjoys asking questions and spending time with her family. She is fascinated by stories of sacrifice like those of Jesus and that… read analysis of Missy
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Nan Phillips

Nan, Mack’s wife, is an oncology nurse who uses her strong sense of faith to help patients facing terminal illness. She has a uniquely personal relationship with God, calling him by the familiar name… read analysis of Nan Phillips


Sophia, the personification of God’s wisdom, is a beautiful, commanding woman who forces Mack to realize that in judging other people, his is actually, by extension, judging God for allowing evil to exist in the… read analysis of Sophia


Willie is an old friend of Mack’s. He serves as a narrator for the prologue and epilogue of the book, and is possibly a stand in for the novel’s real author, William Paul Young… read analysis of Willie

Mack’s Father

A violent alcoholic who abused Mack and other members of his family. Before running away from the family farm, Mack fills all the alcohol bottles he can find with poison. When Sarayu gives Mack the… read analysis of Mack’s Father
Minor Characters
Kate is Mack and Nan’s older daughter. At the opening of the novel, Kate is struggling and withdrawn. Because she took her sister’s death especially hard, she has been lashing out and retreating from her parents.
Josh is Nan and Mack’s youngest son. Along with Kate, he was on the camping trip when Missy was kidnapped. He has weathered her death more successfully because of the relationships he has formed in the wake of her death.
The Ducettes
A family with two young daughters about Josh and Kate’s ages. They befriend Mack and his family during the camping trip and help in the search for Missy.
The Madisons
A Canadian couple who befriend Mack and his family during the camping trip.
Tommy Dalton
A police officer who leads the search for Missy after she is kidnapped.
An FBI officer who connects the evidence surrounding Missy’s death to a serial killer known as “The Little Ladykiller.”