Character Analysis of The Novel Coolie

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Monoo: An orphaned hill-boy who is the
protagonist of the novel, and is the ‘coolie’ to whom the title alludes. He is also called ‘Mundu’.

Daya Ram: Munoo’s uncle who is a peon in the Imperial Bank at Sham Nagar. He is Munoo’s Guardian.

Jay Singh: One of Munoo’s village playmates who is his rival for the leadership of the village boys.

Bishan: A fat boy who is a friend and playmate of Munoo and takes his side.

Bishambar: Another of Munoo’s friends who is
described as a fiery little boy and sides with Munoo against Jay Singh.

Pir Din: Head peon of the Imperial Bank
at Sham Nagar, under whom Day a Ram works. Daya Ram addresses him as ‘Mian Sahib’.

Nathoo Ram: The ‘Babuji’ in whose house Munoo works as a domestic servant. He is one of the bosses of his uncle, being the Sub-Accountant in the Imperial Bank at Sham Nagar.

Uttam Kaur: The Babu’s wife, the Bibiji who is
Munoo’s mistress in his first job as a domestic servant.

Prem: The ‘Chota Babu’, Nathoo Ram’s younger brother. He is a doctor by profession and is the only man in the Babu’s house who is kind and considerate to him.

Lila: The Babu’s younger daughter who monopolizes most of Bibiji’s attention.

Sheila: The Babu’s elder daughter who is at first friendly to Munoo, but later humiliates him so that he takes revenge on her by biting her on the cheek. As a result of this transgression, which is interpreted as an attempt to outrage her honour, Munoo is beaten mercilessly by his master and decides to run away from the house.

Seth Prabha Dayal: Munoo’s benefactor who takes him along to Daulatpur. The Seth later becomes a bankrupt and leaves the town.

Ganpat: Prabha Dayal’s dishonest partner who is responsible for his ruin. Ganpat is cruel towards Munoo.

Maharaj: A large-limbed mentally retarded labourer who is made to slave in the pickle factory and later forced by Ganpat to work in his new factory.

Bonga: A deaf-mute who is another of the workers in the pickle factory of Prabha Dayal and is later appropriated by Ganpat.

Tulsi: The head worker of Prabha Dayal who is loyal to him even after his financial failure.

Lachi: One of the women workers in the pickle factory who seems to be Ganpat’s paramour.

Todar Mal: A Rai Bahadur whose house adjoins Prabha Dayal’s pickle factory He has Prabha Dayal arrested for
debt through his son who is a police officer.

Ram Nath: The Rai Bahadur’s son who becomes a sub-inspector of police and has Prabha Dayal harassed.

Lady Todar Mal: The Rai Bahadur’s shrewish wife who pesters Prabha Dayal and Ganpat because the smoke from their ovens causes a nuisance. She also advances a loan to Prabha Dayal after he has appeased her by gifts of jam.

Edward Marjoribanks: The British doctor who is the Health Officer of Daulatpur and to whom the Rai Bahadur makes a complaint against the owners of the pickle factory.

The Dutt Brothers: The landlords who own the property which constitutes Prabha Dayal’s house and factory.

Hem Chand: One of Todar Mal’s colleagues on the Municipal Committee. He is the Secretary of the Committee. The prostitute on whom Ganpat squanders the money which he has collected from the merchants who deal with the pickle factory.

Amir Jan: The ‘female giant’ who is the star attraction of the circus in Daulatpur.

Hari: An old mill worker in Bombay who gets Munoo a job in the Cotton Mill, and with whom he stays while in Bombay.

Moti: One of the children of the labourer, Hari.

Lakshmi: Hari’s wife; she is tender towards Munoo, and it appears at one stage that her feelings for the boy are not entirely those of a mother.

Nadir Khan: The Pathan chowkidar who guards the entrance to the cotton factory.

Lalkaka: A Parsi errand-boy of the Cotton Mill.

Jimmie Thomas: The chief foreman of the Sir George White Cotton Mill; he is known by the name of Chimta Sahib.

Shabu: One of the mill workers whose fowls are taken away by the shopkeeper for an arbitrarily low price, since he has to send them to the foreman as a gift.

Badar Din: The foreman’s bearer who comes to the shopkeeper with demands from his master.

Ratan: The ex-wrestler who works at the Cotton Mill and not only teaches Munoo the job but stands him and Hari in good stead. He is dismissed by the foreman because of his attitude of defiant self-respect.

Shibu: The mill-worker whose room Hari’s family and Munoo share after their hut is flooded during the rains.

Piari Jan: The dancing-girl in Bombay to whose house Ratan goes and, once, takes Munoo along with him.

Onkar Nath: The president of the All India Trade Union Federation whom Ratan meets with a complaint after his unfair dismissal from the factory.

Sauda: One of the union leaders who have leftist leaning and incites the workers to go on a strike, after the announcement of ‘short work’ is made.

Muzaffar: Another union leader whose views are similar to those of Sauda.

Stanley Jackson: An English unionist who promotes trade union activity in Bombay.

Mr. Little: The English manager of the Sir George White Cotton Mill.

Reginald White: The proprietor of the cotton mill who orders that the mill should observe ‘short work’.

Nellie Thomas: Jimmie Thomas’ wife, whom Munoo meets when he goes to the foreman’s house to plead for Ratan’s reinstatement.

Mrs. Mainwaring: The Anglo-Indian woman whose car knocks down Munoo and who decides to take him along with her to Simla and employ him as a domestic servant.

Circe: Mrs. Mainwaring’s daughter who is in the car with her when the accident takes place.

Heinrich: A German photographer whom May Smith marries.

Penelope: May’s daughter by her German husband.

Aga Raza Ali Shah: A captain in the Zalimpar army whom May marries after her German husband is interned.

Guy Mainwaring: May’s third husband whom she marries after obtaining a divorce from Aga Raza Ali Shah.

Ralph: Mrs. Mainwaring’s second child. Her husband suspects that he is really the offspring of her previous husband.

Ala Dad Khan: Mrs. Mainwaring’s khansamah under whose supervision Munoo works as a domestic servant.

Mohan: A young rickshaw puller of Simla. He has deliberately taken up this work to expiate for the luxurious life he has led as a boy He is educated and stands by Munoo till his death.

Major Marchant: An Indian Christian doctor who is the Health Officer of Simla. He is called in to treat Munoo when he falls ill as well as during his last illness, when he instructs that Munoo should be segregated and that Mrs. Mainwaring should refrain from visiting him.


Gopipur: The name of Munoo’s village in the Kangra valley.

Beas: The river on the banks of which Munoo’s village is situated, where he and his friends play and graze their cattle.

Sham Nagar: A town at the foot-hills of the Kangra valley which is in the vicinity of Munoo’s village, and where he has his first spell of employment.

Pathankot: A town in Punjab from where
roads for hilly regions like Kangra branch off. Prabha Dyal and Ganpat have many clients in this town.

Hamirpur: The hill village from which Prabha Dyal hails.

Bombay: The metropolitan city to which Munoo is smuggled by the elephant trainer and where he works in a cotton factory.

Sir George White Cotton Mills: The factory in Bombay where Hari, his wife and children, as well as Munoo, work. The laborers pronounce the name as ‘sirjabite’.

Sahib’s Lane: A dirty street near the factory
where Chimta Sahib’s miserable huts are situated, in one of which Hari’s family and Munoo live for a while.

Jamshedpur: The industrial town where Ratan has worked in a steel mill before coming to Bombay.

Manchester: An industrial city in England, where Stanley Jackson organised labour movements before coming to Bombay.

Simla: The summer capital of India during the British rule. Mrs. Mainwaring resides there and the last phase of Munoo’s life is lived there.

Convent of the Sacred Heart: The school in Simla where May Smith (Mrs. Mainwaring) is educated.

Western Ireland: May Smith invents the fiction of her family owning estates there, to support her claim that her dark complexion is because of her Celtic descent.

Zalimpar: The Indian state in whose army William Smith, Mrs. Mainwaring’s father, served as a colonel.

Peshawar: A city in the north-west frontier of India (now in Pakistan), where Guy Mainwaring’s regiment is stationed when he returns from England after his honeymoon.

Anandale: Place near Simla in the vicinity of which Mainwaring’s rented flat is located.

Union Jack Club: An exclusive English club in Simla to which Mrs. Mainwaring is refused admission because of her questionable reputation.

Mashobra: A resort near Simla where Mrs. Mainwaring and Major Marchant go for a picnic, with Munoo accompanying them as an attendant and one of the rickshaw coolies.

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