Questions tagged [name-significance]

Questions related to the literary significance or meaning of proper names that appear in literature.

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2 answers
12k 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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
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In An Inspector Calls, is there any deeper meaning attached to the name Birling?

Several of the characters in J. B. Priestley's play An Inspector Calls have names of symbolic significance. Most notably, Inspector Goole plays on his potential supernatural aspects: "spectre&...
1 vote
1 answer
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What is the symbolism of the name 'Llewelyn Moss' in "No Country for Old Men"?

One of the lead characters in No Country For Old Men is named Llewelyn Moss. I find the surname striking. I wonder if McCarthy meant something by it. Moss, the plant, grows on trees. And so I ...
1 vote
0 answers
48 views

Onomastics of Percival Everett's The Trees

tl;dr What's going on with names in The Trees? Deets Percival Everett's The Trees ends as Damon Thruff is typing out a list of 7,006 victims of racial violence: "He's typing names," Mama Z ...
31 votes
1 answer
11k views

Why did Alexandre Dumas use Greek names for the three musketeers?

In the 1844 novel The Three Musketeers by French novelist Alexandre Dumas there are three musketeers who are named Aramis, Athos, and Porthos. But they are French. Why did Alexandre Dumas choose Greek ...
0 votes
2 answers
303 views

Why did Hugh Lofting name his character Dolittle?

Doctor John Dolittle is the main character of children's books (Dr. Dolittle) written by English writer Hugh Lofting in 1920. Why did he choose Dolittle as the surname of the character? Is it related ...
13 votes
1 answer
5k 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 "...
8 votes
0 answers
138 views

When and why did the spelling "Shakespeare" become standardized?

Six specimens of William Shakespeare's signature survive. In none of them does he spell his own name "Shakespeare". Three of the signatures abbreviate his name. Of those that do not, two use ...
10 votes
2 answers
10k views

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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
255 views

Why did August Strindberg pick the names "Julie" and "Jean" for the protagonists of his play Miss Julie (1888)?

In Miss Julie (Fröken Julie), a seminal play and central piece of modern Swedish literature, the two main characters are named "Julie" and "Jean". Why "Julie" and "...
1 vote
0 answers
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Origin of the name Duff Kerrigan?

Duff Kerrigan is a fictional detective featuring in a series of 21st-century detective stories by Jim Ingraham. That doesn't seem like a very common name, and yet it appears in exactly the same form ...
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is there a meaning to Koroviev 's nickname?

In Master and Margarita, Koroviev (or Korovyev) is part of Woland's entourage. In various scenes, he is called by his nickname - Fagot: The magician sat down. ' Tell me, my dear Fagot,' Woland ...
4 votes
0 answers
103 views

A Narnian mole based on a British admiral?

Clodsley Shovel: a talking mole who plays a minor role in Prince Caspian. Cloudesley Shovell: a British admiral who died off the Isles of Scilly. What's going on here? Did Lewis ever acknowledge the ...
5 votes
0 answers
51 views

Why do all the three guys' names begin with M in Face?

In Benjamin Zephaniah's Face, the main character leads a "gang of three" at the beginning of the story. The three friends' names are alliteratively Martin, Mark, and Matthew. This led to ...
2 votes
1 answer
122 views

What is the significance of the chapter title “Detention With Dolores”?

In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix the title of the thirteenth chapter is “Detention With Dolores”. It strikes me as odd that Dolores is used in the title, as the book is from Harry’s ...
10 votes
1 answer
2k views

In 'The Graveyard Book' by Neil Gaiman, why is one 'Jack' named for a historical person

The book features a group of characters who are members of a fraternal organization, and call themselves: the Jacks of All Trades, or the Knaves, or by other names. We go back an extremely long way. ...
1 vote
0 answers
53 views

Oenone and Eno Zero - names based on numbers or what?

In the Mortal Engines series by Philip Reeve, a major character in later instalments is Oenone Zero, a person whose first name I immediately noticed is an anagram of one one. At some point it's ...
2 votes
0 answers
49 views

Is there a deeper significance of Professor Denovo's name?

The first book in Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence is Three Parts Dead. Professor Alexander Denovo, the main antagonist, seeks to gather enough power for himself to become like the gods. (Gods exist in ...
7 votes
5 answers
1k 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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
48 views

What is the significance of the dogs being named Hamlet and Ophelia?

In The Dragon Heir, from Cinda Williams Chima's The Heir Chronicles, Madison has two golden retrievers who are named Hamlet and Ophelia. One does not name anything "Hamlet" in a book by ...
0 votes
1 answer
88 views

Why is the town called "Trinity"?

The action in Cinda Williams Chima's The Heir Chronicles centers around Trinity, Ohio. The town name is almost obnoxiously religious. Religion, specifically Christianity, does come up in the books, ...
3 votes
0 answers
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Maish's T&L Deli

I'm reading a series of books by Stuart Kaminsky (highly recommended) about a Jewish Chicago cop/detective named Abe Lieberman. One of the frequent scenes in the series is the deli run by his brother ...
9 votes
1 answer
303 views

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 ...
7 votes
1 answer
146 views

Why did T.H. White name his hero Mr. White?

In The Elephant and the Kangaroo, T.H. White names his protagonist "Mr. White," with no first name ever given. There are several notable similarities between the author and his protagonist: ...
5 votes
0 answers
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Inspiration behind Jack Vance's fantasy names?

One of my favourite parts of Jack Vance's Lyonesse series, which I first read many years ago, is the way the names seem perfectly chosen to reflect the nature of what they're naming. How could ...
3 votes
2 answers
649 views

As the former name for Baghdad, does "Sutis" contain any special or symbolic meaning?

Lawrence Joseph has mentioned the poem "In This Language, In War's Revolutions" that: in the city Baghdad, named Sutis by its founder, Nebuchadnezzar, here where the prophet Daniel ...
8 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why is the snake named "Asmodeus"?

In Redwall there is a fearsome, hypnotizing serpent called Asmodeus Poisonteeth. The name seems pretty obviously from the Biblical demon/devil (Is there a difference? The Wikipedia page doesn't help) ...
15 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why is Nausicaa named 'burner of ships'?

Nausicaa in the Odyssey is the princess of a race of seafarers. She and her people are beloved of and descended from Posidon/Neptune. Nausicaa herself is directly descended from both sides as her ...
4 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of "Zima" in the Decameron, Day 3 Story 5?

Day 3 Story 5 of the Decameron features a main character who is referred to by the name of Zima: Now there was then in Pistoia a young man, Ricciardo by name, of low origin but great wealth, who went ...
3 votes
1 answer
144 views

What does the name "Hodel" mean?

In Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "The Primper", Adele's real name is "Hodel": Her two sisters and three brothers married in due time, but she, Adele - her real name was ...
4 votes
1 answer
187 views

Significance of Effi Briest's name

I've been thinking about Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest for a while, and the names of the characters, especially Effi Briest's name, but also the other important characters, like for instance ...
8 votes
1 answer
100 views

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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
74 views

Why do Chinese novelists sometimes have the same name as their characters?

I've encountered this twice now: 这世界,缺你不可 by 吴大伟 (Google Books) has a character named 大伟 (pinyin: Dà​wěi). 谢谢你曾来过我的世界 by 仲尼 (Google Books) has a character named 仲尼 (pinyin: Zhòng​ní). I'm puzzled as ...
27 votes
4 answers
8k views

Isn't Gríma Wormtongue a very revealing name?

Something which strikes me both while reading the book and watching the movie is the very striking name "Wormtongue". He might as well be named "Evil Dude". He seems over-the-top ...
3 votes
0 answers
51 views

What do the names of Yasha's animals in "The Magician of Lublin" say about him?

In Isaac Bashevis Singer's The Magician of Lublin, our main character Yasha named his horses "Kara" and "Shiva", and refers to them as "Dust" and "Ashes: He need ...
4 votes
1 answer
449 views

Is there a hidden meaning in the name of Captain Foulenough?

The novel Brideshead Revisited features a secondary character, a certain Captain Foulenough. In Russian translation his last name is rendered as Буремглой, obviously referring to a Pushkin's line ...
8 votes
1 answer
715 views

What do the names of the Decameron characters signify?

The Wikipedia page for the Decameron claims (without citations) that: Boccaccio himself notes that the names he gives for these ten characters are in fact pseudonyms chosen as "appropriate to ...
7 votes
1 answer
623 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 ...
6 votes
1 answer
789 views

What is the significance of the name Jude, in Jude the Obscure?

The meaning of "obscure" in the title of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Oscure has been discussed previously on this site, but what about the name Jude? Earlier versions of the manuscript had the ...
29 votes
2 answers
16k views

Why is the UK called Airstrip One?

In 1984, London is the chief city of the province Airstrip One (which consists of the UK), which is a part of the superstate Oceania. Is there a reason why it's called Airstrip One?
6 votes
0 answers
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What is the significance of the name Bastian Balthazar Bux?

Apart from being triply alliterative (BBB), what is the significance of the name Bastian Balathazar Bux (or Bastian Balthasar Bux in the German original), the protagonist of The Neverending Story? ...
2 votes
1 answer
359 views

What inspired Babar's name?

Babar is a fictional elephant, featuring in stories by Jean de Brunhoff and later his son. The name "Babar" is similar to baba, a word originally meaning "father" but used as an ...
2 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
17 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why is the superstate Winston lives in named Oceania in 1984?

Winston Smith lives in London, a city in the superstate of Oceania. As shown in this map, Oceania consists of all of the Americas, the United Kingdom, and Australia. In the modern world today, Oceania ...
8 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why is the Emperor Beyond the Sea named that?

Closely related: Why does the Emperor-Over-the-Sea play such a small role in the Chronicles of Narnia? Why is the Emperor Beyond The Sea in The Chronicles of Narnia named that? What sea is he beyond, ...
5 votes
2 answers
461 views

Why does the narrator in Tagore's story call the Cabuliwallah's daughter "Parbati"?

In Rabindranath Tagore's "The Cabuliwallah", Rahmun, the eponymous Cabuliwallah, has come to Calcutta to make a living selling nuts and dried fruits from his native Afghanistan. In lieu of a ...
8 votes
2 answers
537 views

What is the significance of "Jonathan" in Strange and Norrell?

At least four major characters have the name "John" or "Jonathan", including Jonathan Strange, John Segundus, John Childermass, and John Uskglass. This is potentially confusing to a reader. In ...
6 votes
0 answers
428 views

Is there any evidence that Theremon 762's name was based on a theremin?

In Isaac Asimov's novel and short story (short story later expanded) Nightfall, there's a character named "Theremon 762". The whole novel is about darkness and innate fear, and a theremin, a type ...
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there significance behind the name "Scout" from To Kill A Mockingbird?

I am asking this question in response to the response to this question, which was more broadly asking about the significance of the names in To Kill A Mockingbird. However, it was closed as too broad. ...
12 votes
1 answer
10k views

What does Narcissa Malfoy's name say about her character?

Many of the names in the Harry Potter series are chosen so as to reflect some trait of their character. For example: Sirius Black the black dog, Remus Lupin the wolf, Severus the severe teacher, Luna ...