Walter Faber, the protagonist of Homo Faber, is a technologist who works for UNESCO. Born and educated in Switzerland, Walter now lives in America, but he travels extensively for work in Europe and South America. Walter lives in an apartment in Manhattan. He has never been married.
Also called Elisabeth and Elsbeth, she is Walter and Hanna's daughter, Swiss born, but she believes that Joachim is her father. She is about 20 years old, and she speaks English, German, and probably French.
Joachim's brother, he is employed by the same company that sent Joachim to Guatemala.
German born, training as a doctor, Joachim was a friend of Walter's. He later married Hanna, but they separated after Hanna nullified the possibility of future children. Sabeth believes that he is her father. After separating from Hanna, Joachim joined the German (Nazi) army and fought in World War II. Hanna and Sabeth never saw Joachim again. Decades later, he moves to Gautemala to run a tobacco plantation, and a few weeks afterwards he commits suicide.
Walter's American mistress. She is married. Once a week she comes to New York to see Walter and her psychiatrist.
A musician from Boston, Marcel spends his vacations studying Mayan ruins in Latin America. Marcel denies membership in the Communist Party but espouses extremely left-wing views.
An agriculturist from Israel, Mr. Lewin is Walter's bunkmate on the voyage from New York to Paris.
An American, Dick is a close friend of Walter's.
Walter's immediate superior at UNESCO; he and Walter are not friends but are slightly more than colleagues.
A Cuban femme de joie (woman of joy, prostitute) on the weekends, and a packer during the week, Juana's greatest ambition is to get to New York.
Walter's professor. He used to have Walter over to his house on the weekends to help him proof a new edition of a textbook. His dying wife seduced Walter. When he and Walter meet in Paris, then in Zurich, Professor O. is extremely ill. He dies just before Walter's operation.
An old blind man whom Hanna knew as a girl, and with whom she spent a great deal of time. Armin introduced Hanna to the ancient Greeks, and they made plans to run away to Greece once Hanna was of age.
Hanna's second husband, Piper never actively appears in the novel.
Homo Faber Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Homo Faber is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.