Questions tagged [name-significance]

For questions related to the literary significance or meaning of names that appear in literature.

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What would be a cliche name for a very stupid person?

What could be a name for a very stupid person, where the reader instantaneously and intuitively knows, that the person is an idiot? For example a name like John/Jane Doe hints at an unknown everyman/...
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Why is the not-so-wicked Which called Faintly Macabre?

In Norton Juster's witty wacky fantasy The Phantom Tollbooth, during their stay in the Dictionopolis dungeon Milo and Tock meet a witch Which. She used to be in charge of selecting which words to use, ...
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515 views

What kind of name is Vardaman?

As I Lay Dying is one of my favorite Faulkner novels, but I always come back to the thought: "Who on earth names their kid Vardaman?" Don't get me wrong, I love the name, and Vardaman is my ...
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780 views

Why “Moon Child”?

In The Neverending Story, the main turning point is when Bastian gives the Childlike Empress her much-needed name, saves Fantastica, and enters into the story himself. This name is "Moon Child", or "...
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55 views

Does the title of “Marquis” change the name of its holder?

In "The Chief Mourner of Marne" by G. K. Chesterton, the main character was named James Mair, and his cousin was named Maurice Mair; the author said that after the death of Maurice Mair, ...
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43 views

What is the significance of Jane's maiden name Tudor in That Hideous Strength?

In C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength, the main character Jane Studdock had the maiden name Jane Tudor. This is only mentioned once in the book itself - I had forgotten it and only noticed it ...
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1answer
30 views

What is the significance of the names Mersault and Meursault?

The novel A Happy Death, written in the late 1930s and published posthumously in 1971, has a main character named Patrice Mersault. Camus's novel The Stranger, written a few years later and published ...
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What is the origin of the name Nilfgaard?

The empire of Nilfgaard becomes very important in the Witcher saga starting from the end of Sword of Destiny and continuing through the novels starting with Blood of Elves. The name has always ...
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What is the significance of naming the djinni Bartimaeus?

In the Bartimaeus trilogy, the main character is the eponymous djinni Bartimaeus, a demon/spirit from "the Other Place" who is cheeky, witty, boastful, and at times surprisingly deep. Bartimaeus, ...
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Is there any significance to the name “friends of Lilith” in Simone Kern's “The Propagator”?

Simone Kern's "The Propagator" is set in a future where abortion is illegal, and anyone who tries it is persecuted for "reproductive crimes". During the story, we learn about the "friends of Lilith", ...
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153 views

Where did Stephen King get the word “Shawshank” from?

I just watched "The Shawshank Redemption" for the first time. I was surprised that it took place in a U.S. prison because I had assumed for years based on my ignorance that "Shawshank" was derived ...
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Why is Mr William Collins never referred to as the Rev Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice?

Mr William Collins is an ordained clergyman in the Church of England, and becomes the priest of the Hunsford parish. I realize that neither Miss Elizabeth Bennet nor her father particularly revere Mr ...
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Significance in Raskolnikov's name in Crime and Punishment?

The protagonist/antihero of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov. As it says on Wikipedia: The name Raskolnikov derives from the Russian raskolnik meaning "schismatic"...
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Why is Josef K.'s last name never revealed?

Throughout the novel, the main character's name is given only as "Josef K." In fact, as I recall, several characters even actually refer to him as Josef K. Why isn't he given a last name? Is this ...
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304 views

Why the name “Gumdrop” for the vintage car?

As a child I enjoyed some of the Gumdrop stories, without ever realising that the name of the car Gumdrop was the same as a type of sweet. Perhaps the reason for this name is explained somewhere in ...
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Georgian London: they had Windows of course but … Linux?

I'm reading (the Italian translation of) The Confessions of Frannie Langton, a novel set in Georgian London, and one of the preeminent characters is the housekeeper of George and Marguerite Benham, ...
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Is the name Crowley in Good Omens a reference to the famous occultist?

The main demonic character in the humouristic-apocalyptic story Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman goes by the name Anthony Crowley - a name which instantly jumped out at me because of its similarity ...
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What is the significance of Alec Bings's name in The Phantom Tollbooth?

In The Phantom Tollbooth, basically every name has a significance/pun. For example, Dr. Dischord - his name is 'Discord' with 'chord' - implying bad sounds. Or the DYNNE, or 'din'. And Chroma, with ...
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859 views

How does Effie Trinket's name relate to how she is portrayed throughout the series?

Merriam-Webster defines Trinket like this: 1: a small ornament (such as a jewel or ring) 2: a small article of equipment 3: a thing of little value How does Effie Trinket's name - either ...
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1answer
186 views

Where is the wordplay in the names Zhao Guiweng and Gu Jiu?

In the Wikisource version (in both Chinese and English) of Lu Xun's short story "A Madman's Diary" from his collection Call to Arms, the following footnotes are made about character names: Zhao ...
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1answer
84 views

Is there any significance in King Lune's name?

The king of Archenland during the time of The Horse and His Boy, father of the Archenland princes who play a more major role in the story, is called Lune. Is there any significance to this name? ...
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Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of the name “Laertes” (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet?

Is there any significance in Shakespeare's use of "Laertes" (name of the father of Odysseus) in Hamlet? Do we associate the name with The Odyssey more strongly than Shakespeare, to whom it was just ...
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101 views

Significance of the name Annabel Lee?

"Annabel Lee" is one of many pieces of writing by Edgar Allan Poe which explore the theme of a beloved woman who died young. As with other such works, most famously "The Raven", critics have ...
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967 views

Was Atticus's name meant to mean anything?

I am currently studying Latin, and somewhere I read about a man named Titus Pompons Atticus, and as a lover of literature, I do not like to assume that it is just a coincidence that Atticus Finch of ...
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Was the Cambridge mathematician “Andrew Martin” named after any actual mathematicians?

A central character in Matt Haig's The Humans, is a Cambridge mathematician Andrew Martin, whose speciality is prime numbers. This character is supposed to be exceedingly brilliant and to have solved ...
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364 views

Is there any connection between Paris of Troy and Paris of Verona?

I just noticed that a character in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet has the same name as a character in Homer's Iliad: Paris. In both stories, Paris is one of two men who wish to be with the same woman; ...
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Where does the name Childermass come from?

Returning to the tale of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, it occurred to me to wonder where Childermass (probably my favourite character) got his name from. Wikipedia informed me that "Childermass" is ...
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294 views

Son of Adam but not Eve? Daughter of Eve but not Adam?

Throughout The Chronicles of Narnia the humans are referred to as "Son of Adam" for a male, and "Daughter of Eve" for a female. I'm assuming that the characters in Narnia don't think that females only ...
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130 views

Why do peasants in 19th century Russian literature often have Greek names?

Why do peasant characters in 19th century Russian literature so often have Greek names? (e.g. "Agafon" and "Platon" in Anna Karenina).
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933 views

Where did Charles Dickens come up with the name “Magwitch”?

One of the key characters in Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" is a person named Abel Magwitch. "Magwitch" doesn't appear to be an existing name, nor does it seem to be a word with a different ...
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Symbolism of Marx and Lenina's names in Huxley's Brave New World?

Reading Brave New World it seemed obvious to me that Bernard Marx and Lenina Crowne are in some way referring to Marx and Lenin, but I couldn't figure out any clue to support this claim. Is it truly ...
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228 views

What is the origin of the name “Frankenstein”?

The name "Frankenstein" is famous enough to have entered popular culture, even if people often get confused about whether it refers to the scientist or the monster. But where did Mary Shelley get this ...
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Meaning of the name JumpJim in Hari Kunzru's novel White Tears

In Hari Kunzru's novel White Tears, two young white men, Carter and Seth, create music reusing old jazz and blues songs. Carter has a lot of recordings that he created by walking through the city ...
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What's the significance of the name Loyola?

As soon as I started reading Nalo Hopkinson's short story "The Reverse Cheshire Cat" (freely available to read online), the name "Loyola" jumped out at me. Surely this must be a reference to Ignatius ...
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130 views

What is the joke in the name “Robert Jordon”?

While reading One to Count Cadence from James Crumley (first published 1969), I read this sentence: The name on the passport was Robert Jordon; it was a joke; nobody laughed. Despite searching ...
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992 views

What are the many names of J.E.D.D. Mason, and their meanings?

In Ada Palmer's Too Like The Lightning, the first book of Terra Ignota, the character of J.E.D.D. Mason has many names - "each Power here has a different name for J.E.D.D. Mason." The series is ...
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Was Stevenson's Captain Smollett named after Tobias Smollett?

The captain of the Hispaniola in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island is a man named Alexander Smollett. There's also a Scottish writer named Tobias Smollett, and there's speculation that the ...
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What's the significance of the witches' name change in Sandman?

As mentioned in another question, the three witches are very significant in The Sandman. While that other question asks for their significance in general, I have a much more specific question to ask. ...
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What is the significance of the name “Kopy-Keck” in The Light Princess?

In "The Light Princess" by George MacDonald, the king consults "two very wise Chinese philosophers" about the princess's condition.1 The philosophers are named "Hum-Drum" and "Kopy-Keck." The story is ...
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235 views

Did Eric Clapton name his dog after Dr. Dolittle's Pooch?

I recall in an old interview (from the 70s), Eric Clapton said that his dog's name was “Jeep.” I have remembered this all these decades because it seemed like such an odd name to me. But now I am ...
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167 views

Why do the names of the first two characters introduced in “The Neverending Story” start with B and C?

I only recently started the book, so I'm hoping that I'm not missing something that's made clear in the book later, but the first character introduced in the book is named Bastian Balthazar Bux (whose ...
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2k views

Where did the names Siegfried and Tristan Farnon come from?

The British vet and writer Alfred Wight is best known for his series of semi-autobiographical stories written under the pen name James Herriot, recounting details of his experience as a country vet in ...
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1k views

Is there any significance to Blake's choice of the name Lyca?

The twinned poems "The Little Girl Lost" and "The Little Girl Found" from William Blake's Songs of Experience (available to read online) are about a little girl called Lyca who gets lost from her ...
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132 views

Proper interpretation of the names Christian and Christiana in Pilgrim's Progress

How should one view the names Christian and Christiana, the two central characters of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress: as allegorical (i.e. "followers of Christianity", Christiana being a feminine ...
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832 views

Why did Yossarian sign letters with “Washington Irving”?

When he's in the hospital and is forced to censor letters, Yossarian signed his "name" as "Washington Irving." Later in the book, Major Major does the same thing on official documents. What's the ...
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In Foucault's Pendulum, which names are allusions to the real world, and which are not?

Foucault's Pendulum has a litany of character names that intrigue me. I wonder where many of them come from. For example, Casaubon, the name of one of the main characters, seems like it comes from ...
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470 views

Why Catch-22 if there was only one catch?

Catch-22 contains the following quote: There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the ...
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4k views

Why did Bill Watterson choose the character names he did?

Several major characters in Calvin and Hobbes are named after fictional or historical characters. Calvin is named after theologian John Calvin Hobbes is named after Thomas Hobbes Miss Wormwood is ...
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What is the significance of the name “Strange” in Strange and Norrell?

Inspired by What is the significance of "Jonathan" in Strange and Norrell? In the book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, "Strange" immediately strikes the reader as a rather ... well, ...
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607 views

Meaning of President “Coin” in the Hunger Games books?

My impression was that the name Coin is meaningful as opposed to arbitrary. My thoughts on the meaning so far are: "Other side of the same coin" in that Coin represents the good guys, but ...