How We Are Hungry: Stories Characters

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How We Are Hungry: Stories Summary & Study Guide Description

How We Are Hungry: Stories Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on How We Are Hungry: Stories by Dave Eggers.

Unnamed American Narrator in Egypt

The unnamed American narrator in Egypt is a forty-something man who has traveled to the region despite the warnings of the government not to do so in the post-9/11 landscape of "Another." The narrator is moderately successful, has been married twice, but suffers from anxiety and depression. He goes to Egypt, searching for an answer to the question of whether or not he will die like a bug -forgotten and inconsequential. He is given a tour of the pyramids by Hesham, a local man, to whom the narrator posits the question. Finding inconsequentiality in the Red Pyramid, the narrator and Hesham set off again to continue seeking answers, to see other pyramids.


Hesham is an Egyptian man in the story "Another" who meets the unnamed American narrator while in Egypt. Hesham offers to show the narrator to the Red Pyramid. There, the narrator asks if he will die like a bug, to which Hesham explains that the bodies of the pharaohs have been stolen and sold countless times. It is an answer, and it is not an answer, and so the two of them set off for more pyramids, and perhaps other answers.


Pilar is the main character of the short story "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water". She is relatively happy, though slightly unsure, and travels to Costa Rica to be with the man she loves, Hand. She feels many different things for Hand, including that she wants him to father her babies, and that she wants him to be her own father. She spends a week in Costa Rica with Hand, surrendering herself sexually to him, though he has a dubious sexual past. But following the week, they go their own separate ways -Pilar back to America, and Hand back to Nicaragua where he is working for Intel.


Hand is the love interest of Pilar in the short story, "The Only Meaning of the Oil-Wet Water". Hand is described as being slightly heavy around the midsection, but very charismatic and flirtatious. He has a very deviant sexual past, be he is loved by Pilar anyway. He is very confident and outgoing, and somewhat self-absorbed. He sleeps with Pilar regularly on their trip, only to go his own way at the end of the week.


Tom is the main character of the story "Quiet". He works for a statistical analysis firm in Washington, D.C., and travels to Scotland with his ex-flame, Erin, whom he hopes to win back. Tom has a strong desire to belong to Erin, and to protect her in turn. He seduces her, and has sex with Erin, but following the weekend in Scotland, she never speaks to him again.


Erin is the beautiful love interest of Tom in the story "Quiet". She is described as having many suitors, even though she is missing her left arm. She breaks up with Tom at some point, and moves overseas in the hopes of beginning an expatriate community. She agrees to meet with Tom in Scotland, but following an awkward sexual encounter, never speaks to him again.


Rita is the main character in the story "Up the Mountain Coming Down Slowly". Though her age is not given, one suspects she is somewhere in her thirties. She is hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro after her sister, married and expecting a baby, canceled. Rita appears to be drifting through part of her life, at one time having the courage to care for two foster kids, but not to adopt them, allowing her parents to take the responsibility instead. She is shocked and saddened by the deaths of the three porter boys while on the hike, and returns back down the mountain quickly.


Basil is the main character of the story, "Notes for the Story of a Man Who Will Not Die Alone". He is suffering from terminal cancer, and is in his seventies. He has had a long and full life, but doesn't want to die alone. So together with his first love, Helen, and his son, Derek, he plans an elaborate event where he will die, surrounding by thousands of people, including friends and strangers. Surrounded by everyone in a minor league baseball field, Basil passes on.


Derek is the son of Basil in the story "Notes for the Story of a Man Who Will Not Die Alone". Derek is a year out of college, and works as a forest ranger/firefighter. Derek agrees to help his father with his elaborate plans to not die alone.


Fish is the main character of the story "Climbing to the Window, Pretending to Dance". He lives in Texas, and is the cousin of Adam, who repeatedly attempts suicide, mostly for attention as it later turns out. Fish lives five hours away, and always comes to see Adam in the hospital. But after Adam's latest stunt of jumping off a motel roof, Fish decides that enough is enough, and decides not to visit Adam in the hospital again.

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