Dave Eggers

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Abdulrahman Zeitoun

The protagonist of the book, Zeitoun, as he is usually called, is originally from Jableh, a small coastal town in Syria. After spending years as a sailor traveling all around the world, Zeitoun moved to… read analysis of Abdulrahman Zeitoun

Kathy Zeitoun

Zeitoun’s wife, Kathy was raised in a working-class, Southern Baptist family. She was married and quickly divorced at a young age. Feeling unmoored and unhappy, she began to learn more about Islam through her friend… read analysis of Kathy Zeitoun

Mahmoud Zeitoun

Zeitoun’s father, a former sailor who narrowly escaped death on one of his ships, and subsequently vowed to not spend his life on the water, but rather to settle down with his family. Ironically, he… read analysis of Mahmoud Zeitoun

Ahmad Zeitoun

Zeitoun’s older brother, and the first sibling to leave Jableh to become a sailor and then ship captain. He later hired Zeitoun and they traveled the world together. Ahmad now lives in Spain with his… read analysis of Ahmad Zeitoun

Mohammed Zeitoun

Zeitoun’s oldest brother, a competitive swimmer who was the fastest in Syria and one of the top swimmers in the world. He traveled everywhere and was fêted by kings and presidents, before tragically dying in… read analysis of Mohammed Zeitoun
Get the entire Zeitoun LitChart as a printable PDF.
Zeitoun PDF


Kathy’s best friend. The two of them grew up together and shared an apartment for a while after graduating from high school. Yuko converted to Islam and married a Muslim man, thus introducing Kathy to… read analysis of Yuko
Minor Characters
Kathy’s sister.
Mary Ann
Kathy’s sister.
Kathy and Zeitoun’s oldest daughter, who is mature, intelligent, and spunky.
Another daughter of Kathy and Zeitoun. Aisha is also the name of one of Zeitoun’s sisters, who lives in Syria.
Another daughter of Kathy and Zeitoun.
Kathy’s son from her first marriage.
Yuko’s mother and the adopted mother of Kathy.
Yuko’s husband.
Miss Mary
A friend of Yuko’s who hosts Kathy and her family in Houston.
Nasser Dayoob
An acquaintance of Zeitoun, and another Syrian immigrant who left the country in 1995. He is imprisoned with Zeitoun in New Orleans.
Todd Gambino
A tenant of Zeitoun who lives on Claiborne Street, and is arrested with Zeitoun.
A New Orleans resident who breaks into the Claiborne house to use the telephone after the storm. Zeitoun allows him to stay, and Ronnie ends up getting arrested along with him, Todd, and Nasser.
Charlie Ray
A carpenter who lives next to the house on Claiborne Street.
Alvin Williams
A pastor and neighbor of Zeitoun. Zeitoun helps him and his wife escape their flooded home.
Charlie Saucier
Zeitoun’s former boss, who admired his work ethic.
A friend of Kathy’s, who is Muslim but doesn’t wear the hijab.
Rob Stanislaw
A friend of Zeitoun and Kathy from New Orleans, who helps track down Zeitoun after Katrina.
Walt Stanislaw
Rob’s husband.
Zeitoun’s cousin, who manages a number of Subway franchises in New Orleans.
Frank Noland
A client of Zeitoun in New Orleans.
A fellow prisoner at Camp Greyhound, whom Todd suspects of being an undercover officer trying to make the four prisoners admit to terrorist activity.
This man is in the prison when Zeitoun asks him, against the regulations, to call his wife Kathy. It is through the missionary that Kathy first learns that Zeitoun is alive and at the Hunt Correctional Facility.
Raleigh Ohlmeyer
A lawyer in New Orleans whom Kathy hires to help get Zeitoun out of prison.
Donald Lima
One of the officers who arrests Zeitoun.
Ralph Gonzalez
An out-of-state officer who helps in Zeitoun’s arrest.