The most important characters in the text “Bujak and the Strong Force” by Martin Amis are Bujak and Sam (the narrator). The novella includes several other characters (Bujak’s family, Sam’s family, and the killers), but their role is character-building (they help convey aspects about the main characters) and to illus…


Sam, the narrator

The narrator acts as an observer of Bujak, but he also conveys his own portrait, through his actions and interactions with the other characters.

Outer characterisation

His outer characterisation presents him as a Jewish man named Samson, who was born in 1956 (p. 1, l. 37) and who narrates the events in 1985 (p. 4, l. 35), at the age of 29. His grandparents died in concentration camps (p. 6, ll. 4-5). He lived in London until 1980 and subsequently moved to the US where he married his girlfriend, Michiko, with whom he has a daughter named Roza (p. 11, ll. 20-24).

The narrator wanted to be a writer (p. 3, l. 39), but he works as a teacher (p. 11, l. 21). His physical portrait is conveyed in contrast with Bujak’s and suggests that he is tall and slim: “I am as tall as Bujak, but half his weight. No, less.” (p. 1, ll. 18-19). He also describes himself in a self-deprecating way: “the shoulderless and bespectacled American with his beermug awkwardly poised” (p. 4, ll. 18-19).

Inner characterisation

Sam’s inner characterisation suggests that he is an intellectual, a person who is better at studying rather than at …



Bujak is the central character in the novella. His characterisation (conveyed from the narrator’s perspective) is very complex and detailed. We are presented with his background, his perspective on the world, as well as his actions and reactions.

Outer characterisation

Bujak’s outer characterisation presents him as a strong Polish man, who lived through World War II, who immigrated to the US and then to London, and who had various jobs: “…many neat tortures on Nazi collaborators. He rose up with the Armia Kraiova and was imprisoned in December 1944. During the post-war years he worked in a touring circus…” (p. 1, ll. 33-36); “Bujak worked as a longshoreman in Fort Lauderdale. He took and gave many crunchy beatings – strikebreakers, mob men, union goons. But he prospered…” (p. 1, ll. 42-44)

His wife died in the US and he became the provider for his family: his mother and daughter. When the narrator meets him in London, he also has a granddaughter.

Much of his outer characterisation is focused on the man’s physical strength and handiness which are described on several occasions: “Bujak – sixty years old, hugely slabbed and seized with muscle and tendon, smiling at a bonfire in the yard, carrying desks and sofas on his back, lifting 5 a tea-chest full of books with one hand. Bujak, the strongman.” (p. 1, ll. 3-6)

At the end of the novella, when he…

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