The protagonist of American Beauty. Lester is married to Carolyn, with whom he has one daughter, Jane. Lester works for an advertising agency, lives in the suburbs, and "enjoys" all of the trappings of modern, middle-class existence. At the film's beginning he is deeply and fundamentally unsatisfied with his life, but by its end he has rediscovered an appreciation for the beauty of human existence.
Lester Burnham's repressed, embittered wife. After marrying Lester, Carolyn earned her real estate license, and she has since become passionately involved in her career. What meager self-confidence she has is derived primarily from the appearance of her own home and the homes she sells.
A typical fifteen-year-old girl, the daughter of Lester and Carolyn Burnham. Jane is jealous of her best friend, Angela, and angry with her father for his seeming attraction to her.
The son of Colonel Frank and Barbara Fitts, and the local drug dealer. Ricky makes thousands of dollars a week, which he uses to support his hobby: videotaping the world around him, and seeing beauty in mundane images. When the Fitts family moves next door to the Burnhams, Ricky quickly develops feelings for Jane.
Colonel Frank Fitts
Ricky's father. Married to the timid Barbara, Colonel Fitts is a man who believes in extreme forms of discipline and has decidedly off-putting personal habits: he collects guns and strange memorabilia (such as a Nazi plate), beats his son, and berates his wife endlessly. Although he appears deeply homophobic, we ultimately learn that he is repressing homoerotic desires.
Wife of Colonel Frank Fitts and mother to Ricky. Barbara seems to have been irreparably damaged at some point in her life. She is a timid, ghostly presence in the house, and is generally disconnected from the world around her.
Jane's Lolita-ish best friend. Angela hides her intense fear of being "ordinary" by inventing numerous sexual encounters in order to prove (both to herself and to others) that she is devastatingly attractive to men.
The lead agent for a local real estate agency that competes with Carolyn's. He is extremely successful, the "king" of real estate. He inspires envy and awe in Carolyn Burnham, and eventually becomes her lover.
The beautiful wife of Buddy Kane.
One of Lester and Carolyn's neighbors. Jim Olmeyer lives with his partner, Jim Berkley, and together they are the model of a normal, loving relationship.
One of Lester and Carolyn's neighbors. Jim Berkley lives with his partner, Jim Olmeyer, and together they are the model of a normal, loving relationship.
An "efficiency expert" brought into Lester Burnham's office to get rid of unnecessary employees. Lester blackmails Brad, ultimately winning sixty thousand dollars in a "severance" package.
American Beauty Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for American Beauty is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.