Study Guide

Minor Characters in The Circle

By Dave Eggers

Minor Characters

Alistair Knight

Alistair Knight is one of Mae Holland's many coworkers at the Circle, and he's the cause of Mae's first truly tense experience at the company. After inviting Mae to a Portugal-themed brunch and getting no response from her, Alistair draws Dan (Mae's supervisor), Annie Allerton, and the Circle's human resources department into a formal intervention.

Although Alistair appears to have been satisfied by Mae's apology, he resurfaces later in The Circle as one of the 368 Circlers who vote "no" when they're asked if Mae Holland is awesome.

Yikes. Looks like this guy knows how to hold a grudge.

Mr. and Mrs. Allerton

Annie Allerton's mother appears briefly in The Circle during a flashback to one of Mae Holland's Thanksgiving weekends. While spending Thanksgiving with Annie and her family, Mae gets an earful of Mrs. Allerton's rich, white, and "blue-blooded" bigotry. Are we really all that surprised when the novel later reveals that Mrs. Allerton once watched a man drown and didn't even lift a finger to help?

As for Annie's father…well, he isn't really present in the novel at all. Like his wife, he once watched a man drown without doing a thing to help. He and Mrs. Allerton also used to get up to some sexual hanky-panky with lots of other people back when Annie was a child, but, beyond that, we don't know much about him.

Brandon

Brandon is one of the many random Circlers who only ever appears briefly throughout The Circle. He brings Mae Holland a brand-new tablet on her first full day of work, and he promptly transfers all of the data from Mae's laptop to the new piece of gear. In doing so, he also transfers all of her data into the company's public cloud.

Dan

Dan is Mae Holland's immediate supervisor in the Customer Experience office at The Circle. In general, he's a pretty laid-back and supportive guy, but when Mae starts to demonstrate worrisome non-participatory behaviors, Dan gives her more than one serious talking to.

Along with Eamon Bailey and Denise and Josiah, Dan plays a particularly active role in programming Mae to think and act as other Circlers do. Through leading questions, passive-aggressive behavior, and not-at-all genuine comments about how "cool" it is that Mae wants to spend time with her parents (1.28.44), Dan makes it clear that if Mae wants to fit in at the Circle, she needs to devote way more of her time to the company's non-mandatory (but actually mandatory) activities.

Dayna and Hillary

Dayna and Hillary are the two Circlers who design and build the submersible that Tom Stenton takes down to the Mariana Trench. Although we don't get to spend enough time with these ladies to get to know them well, we know from one off-the-cuff remark Hillary makes that both of them know exactly how un-Circle-y it is for Stenton to insist on exploring the deeps alone.

Denise and Josiah

Denise and Josiah are two Circlers who come as a pair. As company ambassadors, they help to get Mae Holland orientated on her very first day at the Circle, and they reappear later to scold and pressure her about her lackluster participation on the company's social media.

Like most of their colleagues, Denise and Josiah live and breathe the Circle's wholehearted commitments to participation and community. As Annie Allerton tells Mae just before she introduces them: "They're both very serious about their jobs. Actually, beware of just how into their jobs they are" (1.4.3). Truer words have never been spoken.

Dontae Peterson

Dontae Peterson is another of the many Circle employees who comes into contact with Mae Holland over the course of the novel. Dontae works with Eamon Bailey directly and is the person who comes to fetch Mae when Bailey asks to meet with her after her little escapade with the stolen kayak.

Edward and Helena

Edward is the second of Mae Holland's customer contacts to cause her real frustration during one of her shifts in the Customer Experience office. After responding to Edward's customer query, Mae gets dragged down a rabbit hole of continued queries and conversation—one that soon leads to Edward's repeated demands that Mae read his daughter Helena's essays and help her to find a job at the Circle. By then, of course, Helena herself is in on the action, too.

Sheesh. And we thought that Ty Gospodinov revolutionized the internet by making it more elegant and civil. Guess not.

Faisal, Belinda, Gareth, and Finnegan

Faisal, Belinda, Gareth, and Finnegan are four "Aspirants" who bring their ideas to the Circle with the hope that the company will invest in their plans and give them jobs. Faisal has a plan to make e-commerce easier, Belinda has a plan to eliminate racial profiling, Gareth has a plan to make individual neighborhoods safe from invaders, and Finnegan has a plan to end domestic violence.

Watching their presentations, Mae Holland feels vindicated to see how much of the Circle's energies go into social justice and safety initiatives like Belinda's, Gareth's, and Finnegan's. She neither notices nor cares that the "solutions" that the Aspirants are proposing are nowhere near as innocuous as they seem.

Fatima Hilensky

Fatima Hilensky is the name of the woman the Circle's users decide is actually fugitive Fiona Highbridge. Is Fatima Hilensky really a pseudonymous identity that Fiona Highbridge created, or is she an entirely different woman? We never really learn for sure.

Fiona Highbridge

Fiona Highbridge is the fugitive who is randomly selected by the Circle's database when Mae Holland steps up to introduce the company's latest search technology. Highbridge was convicted of having starved her three children to death, but she escaped from prison and has been on the lam ever since.

Although Mae and her millions of viewers worldwide soon believe that they have tracked Fiona Highbridge and helped the police to apprehend her, The Circle never tells us for certain whether the woman they find was actually the real Fiona Highbridge. Since the Circle's members simply vote on every aspect of the chase—Does this woman look like her? Does this name sound like a likely pseudonym?—we readers have no way of knowing whether or not they get it right.

What's that, you say? That sounds like a pretty ominous way of apprehending suspected fugitives? Tell that to the Circle.

The Former Divinity Student

After Mae Holland suggests that a Circle account should be mandatory for every American citizen who is old enough to vote, she and Francis Garaventa head out on the town to celebrate the splash she's making.

At a bar, they're interrupted by a former divinity student who congratulates Mae for having accomplished the things that all world religions have been trying to do for millennia. "Now we're all God," he tells her. "Every one of us will soon be able to see, and cast judgment upon, every other. We'll see what He sees. We'll articulate His judgment. We'll channel His wrath and deliver His forgiveness. On a constant and global level" (2.13.18).

Wowzers. Although Mae and Francis have no trouble laughing off this guy, neither of them realizes just how close his ideologies really are to those of their beloved mentor, Eamon Bailey.

Georgia

Georgia is the first of the two biologists who manages the Circle's aquariums after Tom Stenton brings back the translucent shark, octopus, and seahorse family from the Mariana Trench. When Georgia refuses to go along with Stenton's plan to put all of the creatures together in one tank, Stenton fires her promptly and appoints someone else in her place.

Gina

Gina is another of the Circle's many employees. Her task is to get everyone set up with the social networks that keep everyone at the company in constant contact with one another. While she's at it, she'll get on their cases about the importance of participation and community, too.

Like others among Mae Holland's coworkers at the Circle, Gina takes it upon herself to scold Mae when she thinks that Mae is slacking off on the social side of life at the company. Like Denise and Josiah—actually, who are we kidding? Like most people at the Circle, Gina takes her job a little too seriously.

Gino

Gino is one of the many random Circlers who shows up on Mae Holland's video feed after Mae goes transparent. As Mae shows her worldwide viewers the latest sculpture that's been installed on campus, she interviews Gino and asks for his thoughts.

Gretchen Karapcek

Gretchen Karapcek is the Circle user in the Welsh town of Carmarthen who announces that she works with the woman who the Circle's users have decided is the fugitive Fiona Highbridge. With her camera phone recording her movements along the way, Gretchen tracks down "Fiona" at work and helps to ensure her capture.

Gunner Bailey

Gunner Bailey doesn't actually appear in The Circle, but his name gets trotted out in a couple of important scenes.

The youngest son of Eamon Bailey, Gunner has cerebral palsy, and his movements are severely restricted. When Eamon Bailey really wants to hammer home his points about the basic human right to have access to every possible form of human experience (1.45.103), he uses his son Gunner as an example. Although there are many things that Gunner can't experience for himself, the Circle's technologies make it possible for him to experience many of them vicariously.

Gus Khazeni

Gus Khazeni is the Circle employee who develops LuvLuv—the dating app that collects and condenses all of a person's public information so that their new love interests can plan perfect first dates without worrying about things like choosing the wrong restaurant or striking out with boring activities.

Along with Francis Garaventa, Gus puts Mae Holland on the spot when he and Francis decide to use her as LuvLuv's test subject during a big Dream Friday presentation. After that little episode, Gus disappears from the novel for good.

Jackie

Jackie is one of the Circle developers who's working on the new educational technologies that will soon be combined with Francis Garaventa's child safety program. Jackie's stand-alone program is called YouthRank, and it's built to measure the individual ranking of every student in each American state.

Apart from helping to introduce some of the Circle's most subtly sinister technologies, Jackie also serves another purpose in the novel. When Mae Holland realizes that Jackie is attracted to Francis, Mae suddenly feels a new surge of attraction to her former flame.

Jared

Jared is a veteran member of the Customer Experience staff at the Circle. He trains Mae during her first full days at the Circle, and he acts as her reliable go-to guy in the days to come. But given the company's light-speed expansion rates, it doesn't take long before Mae and Jared are working side by side as the two senior members of the CE team.

Jennifer Batsuuri

Jennifer Batsuuri is a high school student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who volunteers when Mae Holland asks her thousands of viewers if anyone wants to participate in a little demonstration of the Circle's latest educational technology, YouthRank. After the program reveals that Jennifer is ranked 1,396 out of the 179,827 high school students in Iowa, Jennifer goes silent and is never heard from again (in the novel, that is).

Jon

We don't actually know what Jon's role at the Circle is. He appears on Mae Holland's first full day of work with Rob from Payroll and Tasha the Notary, but all he does is collect Mae Holland's birth certificate before disappearing from the novel forever.

Joseph

Joseph is another of the many random Circlers Mae Holland meets during her first days of work at the Circle. An immigrant with "comically bad teeth" (1.7.13), Joseph works in the Circle's Educational Access department, "trying to get tablets into schools that right now can't afford them" (1.7.30).

Annie Allerton calls Joseph "a do-gooder" (1.7.30), but we can't help but wonder just how much of a profit the Circle will make by ensuring that more young people have access to its web tools and technologies.

Jules

Jules is the man running the show when Mae Holland makes her first Dream Friday presentation. As the stage manager, he helps to make sure that everything goes as planned.

Kevin

Kevin was Mae Holland's supervisor during the bleak 18 months that she worked at a utilities company in Longfield, California. Mae detested him and thought of him as "an awful assault on the senses, his breath smelling of ham and his mustache furry and wayward, like two small paws emerging, southwest and southeast, from his ever-flared nostrils" (1.2.4).

Sounds like a charmer.

Apart from Kevin's less-than-satisfactory presentation, the thing that Mae hated most about him was the fact that he actually expected her to care about her abysmally boring job. As if Mae would ever stoop so low as to care about a company that "was wasting human potential and holding back the turning of the globe" (1.2.8).

Man and Woman on a Ramshackle Houseboat

On one of her kayaking trips out onto the San Francisco Bay, Mae Holland comes across a man and a woman who live on a ramshackle houseboat. They're a little strange and socially awkward, but they're nice enough, and they invite Mae to board and share a glass of wine.

The most important role that this couple plays in The Circle is to serve as a vision of what life could be like without the Circle.

When Mae first meets them, the couple's presence reinforces the importance of privacy and solitude—two qualities that Mae always enjoys and treasures deeply when she's out on the water by herself.

The couple never crosses Mae's mind again until Ty Gospodinov, alias Kalden, tells her that he wants to run away together after they destroy the Circle. When Mae thinks of life on the lam with Ty, she thinks of that couple on the water, and she really doesn't like what she sees. The thought of becoming a gray-haired, strange, socially awkward woman who says crazy things to the strangers she meets holds no appeal for Mae. If that's what life without the Circle would be like, she'd rather have a tyrannical, totalitarian corporation running the world.

Marie and Michel

Marie and Michel are a woman and child Mae Holland meets in the Circle's Protagorean Pavilion. Michel is being used to test one of the Circle's new child-education technologies—a digital watch that registers and displays how many words Michel hears spoken around him each day.

Marion Lefebvre

Marion is the owner and operator of Maiden's Voyages—the kayak rental business from which Mae Holland rents (or steals) the kayaks that she takes out onto the San Francisco Bay. From what little we know of her, Marion seems like an unusually kind and generous woman. After Mae's little escapade with the stolen boat, Marion not only covers for her with the police but also makes a point of telling Mae not to feel too embarrassed to ever come back again. How nice is that?

Nanci

Nanci is the first of Mae Holland's customer contacts to frustrate Mae with her extreme neediness. After resolving the customer issue, Mae finds herself bombarded with a series of additional messages from Nanci—the initial ones asking her to fill out a survey, join Nanci's professional networks, and choose a thank-you gift from Nanci's online shop; the next one complaining that Mae didn't invite Nanci to join her own professional networks; and the next ones pestering Mae with friendly messages and follow-ups on her social sites.

Talk about taking the customer experience to an all new level.

Olivia Santos

Olivia Santos is the first government representative to "go transparent" in The Circle—i.e., to consent to wearing a video camera that will record all of her conversations and activities, all day, every day. After Congresswoman Santos takes the plunge, tens of thousands of government representatives worldwide start to do the same. As they do, the Circle tightens its hold on democratic proceedings worldwide.

Pete Ramirez

After Denise and Josiah take Mae Holland to task for not being active enough in the Circle's social circles, they send her off to Pete Ramirez, who sets her up in a "special program" (1.28.183) designed to help reticent Circlers get more habituated to the necessity of sharing their opinions.

Pete initiates Mae into CircleSurveys—an intense consumer-feedback program that solicits her opinion on hundreds of questions a day. Through "valuable" feedback like Mae's, of course, the Circle is able to monetize more information to provide to its client companies worldwide.

Random People Chasing Mercer Medeiros

After Mae Holland sics the world on Mercer Medeiros, it doesn't take long before a group of unnamed Oregon residents band together to chase him down. In doing so, they provoke his final, suicidal act.

Renata

Renata enters The Circle as "a beautiful young head floating atop a scarlet scarf and a white silk blouse" (1.1.9). One of the Circle's most literal-minded and no-nonsense employees, Renata is one of the first people that Mae Holland meets when she starts her new life at the Circle. Renata gives Mae a tour around campus on her very first day, and she helps to engineer the first practical joke that Mae experiences at the hands of her friend Annie Allerton. She also reappears periodically to make sure that Mae is getting settled properly in her new workspace.

Rinku

Rinku is another of the random Circlers whom Mae Holland interviews as she shows her global audience the latest sculpture that's been installed on the Circle's main campus. Like most other Circlers, Rinku finds the sculpture really "soulful" (2.6.17), you know?

Rob From Payroll

Rob from Payroll is, well…Rob from Payroll. His brief appearance in The Circle makes sure that we know that Mae Holland is actually getting paid as she sells her soul.

Sabine

Sabine is a biochemist employed at the Circle, and she works on some of the "biometric" aspects of Circle technologies that involve "iris scanning and facial recognition" (1.7.28). She's one of the many Circlers who makes brief appearances throughout the novel just to give us a taste of the various things that the Circle is up to.

Sebastian

Sebastian is one of the newbie Circlers who joins the Customer Experience team after Mae Holland settles in. He gives Mae a run for her money once the CircleSurveys program is added to their workspaces, but Mae is way ahead of him in the company's PartiRank system, so she's willing to let his little victories slide.

Senator Williamson

Senator Williamson asks the Senate's Antitrust Task Force to investigate the Circle. She's pretty sure that the task force will determine that the Circle is a monopoly, and she's really sure that the federal government should move to break it up.

Like others who pose a threat to the Circle, Senator Williamson is dealt with swiftly and effectively. Under Tom Stenton's orders, false and damning evidence is planted digitally on her electronic gadgets, and she's discredited in the eyes of the world.

Sharma

When the very first demo version of the Circle's "democratic" platform Demoxie is ready to be debuted, Sharma does the honors. She shows Mae Holland (and her millions of viewers) how Demoxie will work, and she runs Mae through a simulated demonstration of the technology.

Stewart, the Transparent Man

Stewart is one of the Circle's oldest employees (in terms of his physical age, that is). At roughly 60 years old, he's about twice as old as the average Circler.

All the same, Stewart's age hasn't stopped him from holding one of the most groundbreaking roles at the Circle. He was the first employee to "go transparent," and by the time Mae Holland joins the company, he's been living transparently for five full years (1.32.12).

Talk about being a trendsetter.

Tania

Tania is an old college friend to whom Mae Holland is connected through social networking and not much else. After Tania's brother starts an online petition to denounce paramilitaries in Guatemala and support their victims, Tania sends it along to Mae.

Tasha the Notary

Like Rob from Payroll, Tasha the Notary is little more than a blip on The Circle's radar screen. She appears briefly during Mae Holland's first days at work to ensure that Mae has signed all of the legal documents related to her employment at the Circle.

Teresa

Teresa is the Circle employee who gives Mae Holland the once-over—touching up her make-up and adding a microphone—before Mae makes her big debut onstage for her first Dream Friday presentation.

Terry Min

Terry Min is one of the Circle's engineers, and he gives Mae (and her thousands of viewers) a tour around the Circle's Protagorean Pavilion when she stops by to publicize some of the Circle's new educational technologies.

Vickie

Vickie is another of the Circle's thousands of employees. She works on Annie Allerton's team and sometimes seems to act as Annie's personal assistant, but her formal role at the Circle isn't entirely clear.

Vickie is African-American, and her ethnicity turns into a major source of stress for Annie when the Circle's PastPerfect program reveals that Annie's American ancestors owned African slaves. In fact, Annie feels so humiliated by the news that she considers laying Vickie off.

How does Vickie herself feel about all of this? We're never actually told. Annie's white guilt takes center stage during this little episode, and Vickie herself gets pushed to the peripheries.

Victor

Victor is the second biologist hired to manage the aquariums that house the translucent shark, octopus, and seahorse family that Tom Stenton captured in the Mariana Trench. After their original caretaker, Georgia, refused to carry out Stenton's plan to put all of the creatures together in one tank, Stenton promptly fired her and replaced her with someone more willing to carry out his commands.

Dr. Villalobos

Dr. Villalobos is the Amal Clooney of medical professionals. She's glamorous and gorgeous—so much so that she actually seems out of place at the Circle's clinic—but she's also eminently qualified and good at her job.

Dr. Villalobos is one of the only female authority figures that Mae Holland encounters at the Circle, and the doctor's extraordinary glamorousness raises a few questions about the gender politics at Mae's new workplace. To what extent does the Circle value Dr. Villalobos, Annie Allerton, and Mae Holland for their appealing good looks rather than their actual abilities? If you keep your eyes peeled for subtle clues throughout the novel, you may find that their appearances have more to do with it all than any of them might guess.

Vipul

One of the many random Circlers Mae Holland meets during her early days at the company, Vipul is working on a way to revolutionize television. What's he gonna do? Who knows. Mae meets him so quickly that we never do hear about his plans.

Walt Lefebvre

Walt is the son of Marion, the owner of Maiden's Voyages. He fills in for his mom sometimes when she isn't around, and he's also one of the two people who set up SeeChange cameras on the beach outside of his mother's shop. It's partly thanks to him that Mae Holland's escapade with the stolen kayak is caught forever on film.