Table of contents


In “The Lazy River” by Zadie Smith, the narration follows the actions and experiences of the main character while integrated in a group of tourists. Therefore, the group can be considered a collective character, functioning as one entity.

The story also features secondary characters such as the sisters who take photos, Mariatou and Cynthia (the two women who plait hair), and Rico and Rocco (the twin singers). Note that the secondary characters are the only ones who are named; unlike the western hotel guests who all share the same identity, the named immigrants in the story have forged their own identities by fighting against the metaphorical lazy river of life.

The narrator

The main character of the short story “The Lazy River” by Zadie Smith is an unnamed narrator.

Outer characterisation

The narrator’s outer characterisation in the story is very brief. The gender of the narrator is never specified, but the narrator is most likely female. This can be deduced from the scene where the narrator and her partner sit on the balcony and “look up his Twitter”. The fact that the narrator has a male partner, and that the couple have children, makes it likely that she is female. However, the narrator’s gender identity remains uncertain.

Her age is also not specified, but it is implied that she is older than the sisters who are 18 and 19 years old. Since she has young children, it can be assumed that the narrator is probably in her early 30s.

Inner characterisation

The narrator seems to be dissatisfied with her life and with the current situation of the world. She describes life as a struggle and talks about how some people find permanent joy in things that distract them from this struggle. The narrator makes a comparison between this kind of people, who she describes as “l...

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