State of Wonder Major Character Analysis

Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

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State of Wonder Major Character Analysis

Dr. Marina Singh

Dr. Marina Singh, the novel’s protagonist, is an intensely loyal, empathetic, and talented researcher and pharmacologist in her early 40s, struggling to extricate herself from troubling romantic patterns and a traumatic past. Her past traumas have multiple origins, starting with her father, a medical student from India, who abandoned her and her white American mother to return his home country after completing his schooling at the University of Minnesota. This separation left Marina to grow up without a father, and resulted in recurring, traumatic nightmares that force her to relive this abandonment again and again. Connected to her father’s abandonment is Marina’s troubling pattern of romantic relationships, including a failed marriage in her 20s, and her current relationship with a 61-year-old-man who is nearly old enough to be her father. Her love interest, Mr. Fox, is not only 20 years older but is also her boss, the CEO of Vogel. Although she hopes to achieve a loving relationship with Mr. Fox, these hopes are extremely naïve, since he refuses to acknowledge their relationship publicly, refuses to verbally express his love for her, and constantly prioritizes company profits over their relationship.

Marina’s troubled relationships with her father and men in general are not the only challenges related to her past. A once promising obstetrician, Marina abandoned that prestigious career for the safety of a biomedical research lab after suffering a harrowing surgical incident that left her feeling deeply betrayed and abandoned by her mentor, teacher, and supervisor, Dr. Swenson. While she is easily the most courageous, likable and sympathetic character in the novel, with the possible exception of Easter, the disappearance of Anders, her close friend and colleague, forces her to confront these complex and traumatic elements of her past—her father’s memory and her relationships with Dr. Swenson, and Mr. Fox. Her trip to the Amazon is not only a trip to discover the truth about Dr. Swenson’s research and Anders’ death, but a journey to confront, and overcome all the traumas of her past.

Dr. Annick Swenson

Marina’s mentor, teacher, and residency supervisor at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Annick Swenson is…

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