Dr. Banks is the narrator of "Story of Your Life." She tells the story of her daughter's life after she has been granted the ability to see the future. She is a linguist who has been assigned to learn the language of a race of aliens referred to as "heptapods" who are inexplicably visiting earth. She was a teacher before this project and will go back to teaching after it is done; her students will be interested in learning about the heptapods in the future. Dr. Banks is highly efficient and intelligent. She makes great advances in learning the heptapod language. She also loves her daughter who is yet to be born and grieves her daughter's coming death.
Roxie is Louise Banks's daughter's friend. She is blonde.
Dr. Gary Donnelly
Dr. Donnelly is a physicist and Dr. Banks's coworker. He and Dr. Banks end up together by the end of the story, and he is the father of Dr. Banks's daughter. Dr. Banks describes Dr. Donnelly as "easily identifiable as an academic" as he had a "full beard and mustache" and wears corduroy (92). Later, when Dr. Banks is learning about heptapod verbs, she notes that Dr. Donnelly assists her "with a charming lack of self-consciousness" (104). Finally, she finds humor in the fact that Dr. Donnelly uses the phrase "highly neat": "I couldn't believe it; I was working with someone who modified the word 'neat' with 'highly'" (106).
Nelson is Dr. Banks's eventual partner after she separates from Dr. Donnelly. He is "ruggedly handsome" (102).
Colonel Weber is a government official who assigns Dr. Banks to the heptapod looking glass to study their language. Dr. Banks describes his physical appearance: he "wore a military uniform and a crewcut, and carried an aluminum briefcase" (92). He is suspicious of the heptapods and intent on learning what they are trying to gain by their arrival. He also emphasizes to Dr. Banks that they must reveal as little information about humans as possible to the heptapods.
Flapper and Raspberry
Flapper and Raspberry are the two heptapods that frequent the looking glass to which Dr. Banks and Dr. Donnelly are assigned. Dr. Banks describes the appearance of the first one she sees: "It looked like a barrel suspended at the intersection of seven limbs. It was radially symmetric, and any of its limbs could serve as an arm or a leg. The one in front of me was walking around on four legs, three non-adjacent arms curled up at its sides" (97). The heptapods are always facing forward due to their spherical shape, which means they never have to turn around to get around. Dr. Banks gets a closer look at the heptapods' skin: "I could see the texture of its gray skin, like corduroy ridges arranged in whorls and loops. There was no smell at all from the looking glass, which somehow made the situation stranger" (97).
Dr. Banks's Daughter
We never learn Dr. Banks's daughter's name, but we learn a lot about her personality during "A Story of Your Life." She has a sassy personality and does not take kindly to being told what to do. She graduates from college and becomes a financial analyst. When she is 25, she dies during a rock climbing accident.
Story of Your Life Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Story of Your Life is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.