Questions tagged [name-significance]

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

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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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2 votes
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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 ...
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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. ...
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Significance of the different terms for Amaranthines in the Kingston Cycle

C. L. Polk's Kingston Cycle has the immortal Amaranthines, powerful magical beings who live in the afterlife. (Specifically, they rule in the Solace, which is where human souls go after death.) They'...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
Rebecca J. Stones's user avatar
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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6 votes
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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 ...
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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? ...
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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 ...
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9 votes
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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) ...
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Was Austen Heller's name inspired by Henry W. Austin?

It's no secret that Howard Roark was loosely inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Interestingly enough, on a recent tour of Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park, IL, I encountered a park named after Henry ...
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Why are Christian's children in "The Pilgrim's Progress" given Biblical names instead of character-based names?

In The Pilgrim's Progress, virtually all of the characters are named after their character (e.g. Mr. Pliable, Mr. Honest, Mr. Worldly Wise-Man, Mercy, etc.). However, Christian's children all have ...
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What's the significance of the name "Johnnie" in "The Bridge by the Tay"?

There's only one named character in this translation of Fontane's "Die Brück’ am Tay" ("The Bridge by the Tay"): "Johnnie". Johnnie shows up twice in the poem: Now, ...
bobble's user avatar
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6 votes
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What is the significance of Blackberry's name in Watership Down?

In the novel Watership Down, the character of Blackberry is the "clever rabbit" among the original group migrating from the Sandleford Warren. He's the one who comes up with innovative (for ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes
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Why is Dandelion named so?

In Watership Down, one of the rabbits is named Dandelion. The explanation given for the name in the Fandom wiki is this: He is a yellow-furred rabbit, hence his name [Dandelion]. But while that ...
bobble's user avatar
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5 votes
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Where does Arrietty Clock's name come from?

In Mary Norton's Borrowers series, the Borrowers are tiny people who live secretly among humans. There are or were several families of Borrowers living in one large house, with family surnames ...
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4 votes
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Does the Dime Lions' name have a deeper significance?

In the duology of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, there are several criminal gangs. The two most important ones are the Dregs (crow symbol) and the Dime Lions (lion symbol). The gangs take pride in ...
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Why are there two characters named "Rose" in Rose Under Fire?

Two major characters in Rose Under Fire (by Elizabeth Wein) have names that mean the same thing. One is named Róża ("Rose" in her native language) and the other Rose. As far as I can ...
bobble's user avatar
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5 votes
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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 ...
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Significance of the names Silim, Tur, and Irij for the sons of Feridoun?

In the second book of the Shahnameh, King Feridoun tests his three sons by appearing to them as a dragon. The eldest son runs away, the middle one takes up arms against the monster, and the youngest ...
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Are the names J. Alfred Prufrock and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley completely arbitrary?

T.S. Eliot's first professionally published poem was "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", in which Eliot narrates the experience of a character named J. Alfred Prufrock. Similarly, Ezra ...
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Did Lois Lowry name the protagonist of the Giver from the biblical prophet?

Did Lois Lowry name Jonas, the protagonist of the Giver, after the biblical prophet Jonah? Both of them are at one point reluctant to follow their calling that they didn't choose, so there is some ...
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In The Great Gatsby, is Nick Carraway's name intentional?

Nick's surname sounds a lot like care-away, and I've seen a number of online sources that state that this Fitzgerald intended for this to be so. I find this hard to believe, considering that Nick isn'...
Nico Damascus's user avatar
27 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
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How could Zohak's advisors deduce the name Feridoun from his dream?

In the first part of the Shahnameh, "The Shahs of Old", the Deev-influenced king Zohak has a dream in which he foresees his own downfall at the hands of Feridoun and his cow-headed mace: ...
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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 "...
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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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Does the title of "Marquis" change the name of its holder?

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