There are few characters in ‘The Notebook‘ by Nicholas Sparks and two characters, Noah and Allie, are at the crux of the story. The other characters are of auxiliary consequence to the plot. The narration alternates between the points of view of the two major characters, Noah and Allie, and an omniscient point of view. While little is said about the auxiliary characters, the major characters, Noah and Allie, are well-developed and detailed.
Noah Calhoun is the protagonist and major narrator of the events in the novel. We see the character Noah in three stages of life in the novel. We first meet him as an octogenarian, then back in time in his early thirties at his prime, and then further back as an idealistic love-struck teenager. Noah is an admirable character in many regards. The character Noah is the major illustration of the theme of aging and mortality in ‘The Notebook‘ as we see time and age transform him physically and mentally in various phases of his life. Yet some things about him remain unchanged despite changing times and age.
Noah is romantic in every sense of the term. He loves poetry and the visual arts and has a profound appreciation for beautiful scenery and elements of nature, such as flowers, creeks, trees, the sky, the moon, swans, birds, etc. In this respect, Noah’s character remains unchanged throughout the story. From his teenage days reading poetry under a tree with his lover to his early thirties reading poetry on lonely evenings, and in his eighties reading poems and admiring the flowers from his room in a nursing home, Noah was consistent in his love of art and nature.
The more evident changes in Noah are physical. We see a sharp contrast between the young Noah hauling heavyweights while mending fences and the frail old Noah to whom walking down the hall is a herculean task. This drives home the theme of aging and humanity’s inability to control the effects of time on their physical body. Noah detests the loss of his virility to old age but is powerless to reverse the course of things. He uses all his willpower to fight the physical incapacitation attendant with his aging but it gets more difficult and ineffective with time.
Noah possesses the fine qualities of determination, hard work, integrity, industriousness, and ambition. We see these qualities at play in his rise from a poor, lower-class family to becoming a successful man with a fortune of his own. Even as a teenager, he is ambitious enough to envision himself as the future owner of the historic farmhouse in New Bern despite how far-fetched a dream it seemed at the time. Fate and fortune reward his hard work, and true to his dream, Noah purchases the farmhouse and refurbishes it from a decrepit condition to a beautiful home worthy of media attention.
Noah is fatalistic; he believes that fate prevails over people’s actions in shaping reality. During his separation from Allie for fourteen long years, Noah kept on believing that if he and Allie were meant to be together, that fate would reunite them in one way or another.
Kindness and generosity are also attributable to Noah. He adopts a crippled dog abandoned by its owners and assists his neighbors financially without asking for anything in return.
Noah is a steadfast lover whose love endured many challenges in the story and never faltered. Despite old age and sickness, Noah continued to express his love for his wife, Allie, in both words and actions.
Allie Nelson is a beautiful, artistic, and free-spirited femme from a socialite family. She, however, does not conform to the barriers of class distinction and other societal expectations placed on her. As a teenager, she falls in love with a boy from a lower social class but indulges in the passion without reservations about the class difference.
Despite her beauty, rich background, and artistic talents, Allie is an uncertain woman. In Allie, we see a constant conflict between pragmatism and idealism. For instance, following her family’s advice, Allie abandons her passion for painting and pursues a more practical career as a nurse. But when she reunites with Noah, Noah prevails over her to make a career out of her passion, and Allie begins to paint again. We also see this conflict as she tries to decide who to marry between Noah and Lon.
Allie’s transformation as a character happens when she decides to meet Noah for closure just before her scheduled wedding to Lon Hammond. It is in that action that she fights her uncertainties and makes major decisions about her life on her own. For instance, it is at this time that she decides to continue painting, an act she had hitherto abandoned for many years.
Like Noah, the character Allie also demonstrates the theme of aging and its effects on humans. But unlike Noah, Allie’s aging deteriorates her mind more than her body. Allie begins to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and the symptoms get more chronic as she grows older.
In addition to her love of visual arts, Allie also loves poetry and the creative use of words in general; this is one of the reasons she convinces Noah to write down their memories in a notebook.
Lon Hammond is Allie’s other suitor. He is a brilliant lawyer with a keen eye for detail who is excelling in his profession. Lon Hammond’s brilliance as a lawyer brings to mind the character Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Like Noah, Lon is hardworking. But unlike Noah, Lon is an unromantic and inattentive lover who is more devoted to his work than to his woman. However, Lon is not a bad person; he is a good man but is just not the right man for Allie. Lon breaks off his engagement to Allie amicably when he realizes that Allie loves another man and gains Noah’s admiration for it.
Anne Nelson is Allie’s mother. She is a typical upper-class Southern woman who believes that people should marry only within their social class. She likes Noah as a person but disapproves of his relationship with her daughter because he comes from a lower class.
Anne Nelson is protective of her daughter. Sensing that correspondence between Noah and Allie will jeopardize her plans to separate the duo, she mischievously intercepts Noah’s letters to Allie and hides them away from Allie. But in the end, she realizes that her actions are wrong and allows Allie to decide who to love without the dictates of social class.
Anne Nelson is a woman who believes in righting her wrongs, and she demonstrates this when she hands Allie the letters from Noah, which she had hidden away for years.
Gus is an elderly man who lives in Noah’s neighborhood. He is an easy-going man with a large family who gives Noah some friendly company and wise insights about loneliness.
Janice is a nurse in the nursing home where Noah and Allie live. She is a romantic herself and aids Noah in breaking some of the home rules to make romantic gestures to Allie.
Morris Goldman is Noah’s former employer. He is a Jewish man who is so impressed by Noah’s hard work and integrity that he leaves him a fortune to inherit from his company.
A widow and single mother who is a beneficiary of Noah’s charity. She serves as a demonstration of Noah Calhoun’s generosity in the novel.
Clem is a crippled dog abandoned by its owners and adopted by Noah. The dog is a loyal companion to Noah. Noah’s acquisition of Clem also demonstrates Noah’s kindness and humaneness.
What was Morris Goldman’s greatest compliment to Noah in ‘The Notebook?’
Morris Goldman’s greatest compliment to Noah was that Noah behaved like a Jew.
Morris Goldman was an old-fashioned Jewish man who believed that only Jews possess the best human qualities there are. That is why describing someone as being like a Jew was a great compliment coming from him.
For how long did Noah write to Allie in ‘The Notebook?’
In their fourteen years of separation, Noah wrote letters to Allie for twelve years. He had decided to stop writing to Allie two years before their reunion because he thought the absence of a response from Allie was because Allie was no longer interested in him.
Did Noah date other women besides Allie in ‘The Notebook?’
Yes, Noah dated other women besides Allie. But his relationships with the other women all occurred during his separation from Allie.
How does Noah describe Allie to other people in ‘The Notebook?’
Noah describes Allie as ‘a living poem’ when talking about her to other people. To Noah, that description summarizes his perception of her as a perfect woman.