About the Characters:
Nomad Truestar is the protagonist of the story. The entire novel takes place during what may be interpreted as his last night on earth, after his appendix has ruptured. Nomad spends the night drifting in, and out of, consciousness as he tries to make sense of the life he has lived until now. All other characters can be interpreted as being distinct beings manifested by Nomad’s perception, or as living exclusively within Nomad himself.
Vie is the guide who forms Nomad’s understanding of the spiritual world. Throughout most of the novel Nomad believes she personifies death, only to realize she is the life that exists beneath his faulty perceptions of death.
Mikhail is the guide that deciphers the physical world for Nomad throughout the novel. His name is a homage to Mikhail Bakhtin, who advanced the dialogic narrative style A Waking Life is written in. Nomad understands Mikhail to be a man he sat with in an AIDS hospice the afternoon Mikhail died. Now, as their roles are seemingly reversed, Mikhail serves as the direct touch between Nomad and all that he encounters throughout the night. His name is meant as an homage to Mikhail Bakhtin, whose ideas of dialogic communication and heteroglossia contributed to the dialogue-based style of the novel.
Nijinsky, the third guide, is a black cat who is anthropomorphised as Nomad’s understanding of intelligence and thought throughout the novel.
Yuri is a wolf who serves as Nomad’s perceptions of emotionality across the universe. She was a wolf pup whose mother had to be shot in the Arctic when the community believed she was rabid. As a result, Nomad raised her from the time she was only a few days old. Yuri refers to Nomad as her mother and her father interchangeably; because, it is the emotion of the parent that resonates within her, regardless of gender.
Raoul is Nomad’s former lover. He was struck, and killed, by a drunk driver. He helps Nomad understand his own misperceptions of race, and racial oppression, throughout the novel.
Gloria is a woman who Nomad met, protected, and encouraged while she resided at the homeless shelter he worked at. She gives Nomad insight into his misperceptions of class-categorization after it is revealed that she had died in the alley behind the shelter.