Study Guide

Boutrous Arbeely in The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker

Boutrous Arbeely

Boutrous… Boutrous, Golly 

Arbeely, the tinsmith, is to the Jinni what the Rabbi is to the Golem: He's the first human man the Jinni encounters upon being unleashed in New York, and their relationship shapes the Jinni's views of humans as a whole.

The Jinni isn't as naïve as the Golem, however, and Arbeely never quite serves as a mentor figure, even though he's the one who suggests the name Ahmad (as a way to help the Jinni blend in to the neighborhood in Little Syria—which, of course, the Jinni does not want to do). In fact, Arbeely is an example to the Jinni of how not to live life. The Jinni grows to resent Arbeely, who is a businessman first, and a friend second. Arbeely likes his small apartment? He likes doing the same menial work all day? He likes not really having a life? Pssh.

When the two of them get together, the contrast between human and supernatural is almost as plain as night and day. Arbeely is happy with his life, and doesn't try to push his limitations, but the Jinni doesn't want to be confined physically or spiritually. Although the Jinni starts to make compromises toward humanity near the end of the novel, Arbeely never seems to grow.