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Anastasia "Ana" Steele
Ana is the female protagonist of the book, portrayed as being shy and self-conscious. When Christian first meets Ana, she is a student studying English Literature at Washington State University Vancouver living with her flatmate, Kate. She is a virgin, and single, despite the fact that Christian initially thinks that she is dating her photographer friend, José. She often talks about her love of books and writing, which is one of the things which prompts Christian to give her an expensive first edition of one of her favorite books, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, as token of his love for her.
Although Christian believes she is beautiful, she has never recognized the fact herself and doesn't believe that she could be good enough for him. She compares herself to her best friend, Kate, who she is very pretty and liked by most men she meets. Ana is also a very stubborn character, for example in the way that she insists that she doesn't want Christian to buy her expensive presents because she wants him to know that his money is not all that matters to her. She seems to be quite reckless and irresponsible, needing to be saved by Christian when she gets drunk at a bar and passes out. However, when Christian explains the BDSM relationship that he wants to have with her, she researches it carefully and makes sure that she does not get into something she is uncomfortable with. We see an emotional side to Ana when, briefly after her relationship with Christian begins, she leaves Christian because he punishes her too hard, and refuses to see him again.
Christian Grey is an attractive and extremely wealthy entrepreneur who lives in Seattle. Although women frequently flirt with him, he does not have a girlfriend and is in no type of romantic relationship at the start of the book. He meets Ana when she comes to interview him as a replacement for her friend Kate, and instantly falls in love with her.
We learn about Christians troubled past, he was orphaned when his drug-dealing mother committed suicide when he was only four. From then he was adopted by Dr Grace Trevelyan Grey. When he was only 15 he was introduced to the BDSM lifestyle by one of his mother's friends, Elena, and the two had a dominant/submissive relationship for 6 years, until Elena's husband found out. Since then, he has had fifteen BDSM relationships with submissive girls prior to meeting Ana.
He is portrayed as loving, but obsessive, coming to meet Ana at the place she works (a hardware store) and even tracking her phone to find her when he drunk dials him. He is also very protective of Ana, becoming angry when he sees her friend José attempting to kiss her even though she has rejected him. He takes Ana home and looks after her, making sure she is fed properly as well as buying her expensive gifts such as books and clothes. It is revealed later in the book that Christian has a 'dark side'- he likes his romantic relationships to be BDSM, with him being the dominant. He initially scares Ana when he shows her his 'Red Room' but is always sure to be respectful of her boundaries and makes sure that she signs and agreement before they do anything sexual. He begins to have a relationship with Ana, but the two fall out because Christian punishes Ana too severely at the end of the book.
José Rodriguez is a photographer and is good friends with Ana. He offers to take pictures for the article that Ana interviewed Christian for, but seems to be intimidated by Christian, making it no secret to Ana that he doesn't like him. This dislike is mutual, as he is viewed as a romantic rival by Christian, who initially thinks that he is dating Ana and is still not reassured when Ana tells him that she sees José as the "brother she never had". It is revealed that José is secretly attracted to Ana, when later he tries to kiss a Ana when they are both drunk. He is in insistent, saying that he has always wanted a relationship with her and doesn't want her to see him as "just a friend". Ana is reluctant to kiss him, but José only allows himself to be rejected when Christian turns up and physically pushes him off her. Despite this, we see that José really is good at heart, as he immediately feels guilty for his actions and apologizes to Ana. The two remain good friends for the rest of the book.
Katherine "Kate" Kavanagh
Kate is Ana's roommate and best friend. She attends the same university as Ana, but is studying Journalism. She ends up being the reason that Christian and Ana meet, as she sets up an interview with Christian for her school newspaper but is unable to go because she has the flu, so asks Ana go in her place.
Kate is the polar opposite of Ana, both in her personality and appearance. She is described by Ana as being very attractive, with blonde hair and green eyes, a confident and outgoing attitude, and the ability to make men "tongue-tied". Kate has all the qualities of a caring best friend, she is protective of Ana and therefore skeptical of Christian, telling him that he would be in serious trouble if he ever hurt Ana. She is the one of the few people who points out that Christian's behavior is controlling after she finds out that he tracked her down at the bar. Despite this, she is consistently supportive of Ana and her relationship with Christian but acts as a sensible influence on Ana to make sure that she does not get swept up into Christian's world of money and BDSM.
Kate has more experience with sex and relationships than Ana, we find out that she lost her virginity at her high school prom, but that she didn't feel comfortable with how it happened and wants to make sure that Ana's first experience is a good one. She meets Christian's brother, Elliot, at a bar and the two engage in a sexual relationship. This is the first serious relationship that Kate has had, but it turns out to be a good one, and the two are still dating at the end of the book.
Dr Grace Trevelyan Grey
Dr Grace Trevelyan Grey is the adoptive mother of Christian Grey and his siblings Mia Grey and Elliot Grey. She is pediatrician, and came to adopt Christian when he was four after his mother committed suicide. She is shown as a loving and caring motherly figure towards Christian, although he often keeps his feelings hidden around her and does not confide in her. She is first introduced whilst Ana is staying with Christian, and almost walks in on them together. She previously thought that Christian was homosexual, and is pleased to meet Ana as she is his first 'girlfriend'.
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