Study Guide

Henrik Sandahl in The Danish Girl

By David Ebershoff

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Henrik Sandahl

Fish Tale

In any other novel, Henrik would be classified as Male Love Interest. We wouldn't even remember his name, because he's pretty generic. He's the first man Lili meets, he falls in love with her, they are split by forces beyond their control, and then they reunite and become engaged. It's all too good to be true. (Unlike Lili, Henrik is an entirely fictional character.)

The reason Henrik is memorable instead of forgettable, though, is because he accepts Lili for who she is. He doesn't care that she used to live as a man, nor does he care about her male physical traits—as he tells her, "I already know. Don't worry about anything, but I already know" (7.24). Aw. He loves her for who she is.

When Lili meets Henrik in secret, at his studio where he paints pictures of fish, he tells her to "Look for the light" (25.35). And Henrik is a burst of light in what could otherwise be a very dark world.

Henrik Sandahl in The Danish Girl Study Group

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