American Gods
Goodreads ratings
4.11 / 5

"American Gods" Characters Analysis

By Neil Gaiman

fantasy | 671 pages | Published in 2015

ISBN_10:0063081911
ISBN_13:9780063081918

Estimated read time: 10 min read

List of Characters

NameRole
Shadow MoonProtagonist
Mr. WednesdayAntagonist/Manipulator
Laura MoonShadow's wife
Technical BoyGod of technology
BilquisGoddess of love and beauty
Mad SweeneyIrish leprechaun
MediaGoddess of television
Mr. NancyAfrican trickster god
Mr. IbisEgyptian undertaker
CzernobogSlavic God of darkness

Role Identification

Shadow Moon: Protagonist

Shadow Moon is the central character in "American Gods." He serves as the reader's guide throughout the story. By working for Mr. Wednesday, Shadow becomes entangled in the war between the old gods and the new gods, unraveling his own complex identity in the process.

Mr. Wednesday: Antagonist/Manipulator

Mr. Wednesday, also known as Odin, assumes the role of the antagonist in the story. He manipulates Shadow Moon into becoming his bodyguard and aids him in recruiting old gods for an upcoming war against the new gods.

Laura Moon: Shadow's wife

Laura Moon is Shadow's deceased wife, who appears as a central character despite being a ghost. She plays a significant role in Shadow's character development and serves as a catalyst for many of his actions and decisions.

Technical Boy: God of technology

Technical Boy represents the new gods' embodiment of technological advancement. He acts as a pivotal antagonist, using his influence and power to challenge the old gods and confront Shadow Moon.

Bilquis: Goddess of love and beauty

Bilquis symbolizes the remnants of the ancient gods of love and desire. Despite losing her former prominence, she remains a significant character, rediscovering her divinity and aligning herself with Shadow and Mr. Wednesday.

Mad Sweeney: Irish leprechaun

Mad Sweeney is a leprechaun who becomes entwined in Shadow's journey. His humorous and unpredictable nature adds a layer of complexity to the story, as his involvement in the war between gods results in unexpected consequences.

Media: Goddess of television

Media personifies the modern world's obsession with pop culture and media consumption. She appears in various forms, such as famous television characters, manipulating events and influencing both the old gods and humans.

Mr. Nancy: African trickster god

Mr. Nancy, also known as Anansi, embodies the African trickster god archetype. He serves as a storyteller, weaving tales that provide insightful commentary on various themes found within the narrative.

Mr. Ibis: Egyptian undertaker

Mr. Ibis, also known as Thoth, is an Egyptian undertaker who plays a vital role in the story. His knowledge of ancient history and mythology lends insight into the nature of the gods and their past interactions with humanity.

Czernobog: Slavic God of darkness

Czernobog, a Slavic god, represents the darkness and brutality within the pantheon. Initially antagonistic towards Shadow, he becomes a valuable ally in the war against the new gods.

Character Descriptions

  • Shadow Moon: Shadow Moon is a tall, brooding protagonist with a mysterious past and an air of guardedness. His physical appearance includes a buzz-cut dark hair, an athletic build, and a preference for darker clothing.
  • Mr. Wednesday: Mr. Wednesday appears as an older gentleman with a weathered face, a constant mischievous glint in his eye, and a well-tailored suit. His demeanor exudes both charm and slyness.
  • Laura Moon: Laura Moon is described as a pale, ethereal beauty with long dark hair and haunting blue eyes. As a ghost, she appears slightly translucent and carries an air of melancholy.
  • Technical Boy: Technical Boy is depicted as a young man dressed in modern grunge fashion, with piercings and tattoos. His appearance reflects his embodiment of technology and its associated subcultures.
  • Bilquis: Bilquis is a striking woman of African and Middle Eastern descent. She possesses an aura of sensuality, often dressed in flowing, colorful garments that highlight her captivating presence.
  • Mad Sweeney: Mad Sweeney is a rough-looking leprechaun, sporting fiery red hair, a scruffy beard, and a weathered face. He dresses in tattered, mismatched clothing that mirrors his disheveled personality.
  • Media: Media assumes various appearances throughout the story, depending on the television characters she embodies. From Marilyn Monroe to Lucille Ball, her appearance is always glamorous and captivating.
  • Mr. Nancy: Mr. Nancy is a charismatic figure who dresses impeccably in vibrant African-inspired clothing. He possesses an aura of wisdom and wit, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
  • Mr. Ibis: Mr. Ibis is a dignified character, usually seen in his undertaker role. He has a thin frame, graying hair, and a well-groomed beard. He dresses in conservative, timeless attire, reflecting his ancient origins.
  • Czernobog: Czernobog is depicted as a burly, hulking figure with a bald head, dark beard, and eyes that exude a mixture of menace and sadness. His attire consists of black clothing, emphasizing his association with darkness.

Character Traits

Shadow Moon

  • Loyal
  • Observant
  • Reserved
  • Adaptable
  • Skeptical

Mr. Wednesday

  • Charismatic
  • Manipulative
  • Cunning
  • Wise
  • Mysterious

Laura Moon

  • Rebellious
  • Resourceful
  • Moody
  • Determined
  • Tormented

Technical Boy

  • Arrogant
  • Manipulative
  • Impulsive
  • Ambitious
  • Technologically savvy

Bilquis

  • Sensual
  • Resilient
  • Curious
  • Empathetic
  • Seductive

Mad Sweeney

  • Sardonic
  • Impulsive
  • Loyal
  • Mischievous
  • Unpredictable

Media

  • Charming
  • Persuasive
  • Calculating
  • Shape-shifting
  • Glamorous

Mr. Nancy

  • Witty
  • Articulate
  • Playful
  • Insightful
  • Observant

Mr. Ibis

  • Wise
  • Compassionate
  • Knowledgeable
  • Patient
  • Respectful

Czernobog

  • Brutal
  • Cynical
  • Stoic
  • Loyal
  • Haunted

Character Background

Shadow Moon

  • Ex-convict
  • Lost his wife in a car accident
  • Worked as a bodyguard for Mr. Wednesday
  • Carries a dark secret regarding his heritage

Mr. Wednesday

  • Ancient god, Odin
  • Arrives in America to recruit old gods for a war against the new gods
  • Has a mysterious agenda
  • Prioritizes regaining his lost power and influence

Laura Moon

  • Cheated on her husband, Shadow
  • Died in a car accident and resurrected through supernatural means
  • Embarks on a journey to find meaning and redemption

Technical Boy

  • Represents the embodiment of modern technology and digitalization
  • Seeks to assert dominance over the old gods
  • Arrogant and impulsive, often underestimates his opponents

Bilquis

  • Ancient goddess of love and desire
  • Lost her worshippers and regains her divinity by aligning with Shadow and Mr. Wednesday
  • Explores the intricacies of love and sacrifice in a modern society

Mad Sweeney

  • An Irish leprechaun exiled from his homeland
  • Cursed and entangled in the affairs of the old gods
  • Longs to return home but finds himself caught in a web of fate and destiny

Media

  • Represents the power and influence of contemporary media and pop culture
  • Uses her persuasive charm to manipulate both gods and mortals
  • Shifts between different television characters to exert her control

Mr. Nancy

  • African trickster god, Anansi
  • Known for his storytelling abilities and gift for manipulation
  • Revels in chaos and plays a significant role in inciting rebellion among the old gods

Mr. Ibis

  • Egyptian undertaker, Thoth
  • Resides alongside the ancient gods in America
  • Chronicles the events and provides insight into the history of the gods
  • Offers guidance and support to Shadow throughout his journey

Czernobog

  • Slavic god of darkness and death
  • Initially opposes Shadow but joins the old gods' cause against the new gods
  • Struggles with themes of mortality, sacrifice, and redemption

Character Arcs

Shadow Moon

  • Begins as a cynical and reserved ex-convict
  • Discovers the existence of gods and becomes Mr. Wednesday's confidant
  • Unravels the truth of his ancestry and accepts his role in the gods' war
  • Learns to trust his instincts and embrace his own power
  • Transforms from a passive observer to an active participant in the war

Mr. Wednesday

  • Starts as a charismatic and manipulative figure
  • Manipulates Shadow Moon into becoming his ally and bodyguard
  • Reveals himself as the ancient god Odin and fights to regain his former glory
  • Sacrifices himself for the cause, leaving a lasting impact on Shadow and the war

Laura Moon

  • Begins as a troubled and remorseful ghost
  • Embarks on a journey alongside Shadow, seeking redemption and purpose
  • Discovers her own strength and learns to cope with her past mistakes
  • Sacrifices herself to save Shadow and becomes a guardian angel for him

Technical Boy

  • Begins as an arrogant and impulsive god
  • Faces a series of setbacks, challenging his notion of superiority
  • Learns the value of respect and humility in the face of the old gods' power
  • Aligns with Mr. World, the leader of the new gods, and becomes a cunning ally

Bilquis

  • Starts as a forgotten and marginalized goddess
  • Rediscovers her divinity through her alliance with Shadow Moon and Mr. Wednesday
  • Embraces her role in the upcoming war and seeks revenge against the new gods
  • Learns the importance of love, sacrifice, and finding her place in a changing world

Mad Sweeney

  • Begins as a chaotic and unpredictable leprechaun
  • Develops a complex relationship with Shadow, shifting from adversary to ally
  • Discovers the significance of his past and confronts his own inherent fate
  • Makes the ultimate sacrifice, finding redemption and closure in his final act of bravery

Media

  • Starts as a powerful and enigmatic goddess
  • Exerts influence over both the old gods and humans through manipulation
  • Faces challenges from the old gods, particularly from Mr. Wednesday
  • Adapts to the changing landscape of media consumption and remains a force to be reckoned with

Mr. Nancy

  • Begins as a witty and mischievous trickster god
  • Inspires rebellion among the old gods by telling captivating stories
  • Navigates the politics of the war and allies with Shadow and Mr. Wednesday
  • Leaves a lasting impression on Shadow and serves as a source of guidance and insight

Mr. Ibis

  • Starts as an ancient and knowledgeable undertaker
  • Chronicles the events of the war between the gods
  • Provides guidance and support to Shadow on his journey of self-discovery
  • Actively participates in the war and contributes to the old gods' fight against obsolescence

Czernobog

  • Begins as a brutal and stoic god
  • Initially opposes Shadow Moon but aligns with the old gods against the new gods
  • Makes a significant sacrifice, confronting his own mortality and finding redemption
  • Finds solace among the old gods and embraces his purpose in the war