The Characters in
The Double Helix
This page gives a small description of the main characters in The Double Helix!
James D. Watson:
James (Jim) Watson is the narrator of this book. It is all from his point of view and he actually admits in the introduction that his ideas may be a little biased. He was an American and was 19 when he graduated from the University of Chicago and also recieved his doctorate when he was 22. He worked with ornithology (a branch of zoology dealing with birds) and then changed to working on and studying viruses. After that he picked another very different field to work in: the feild of genetics and biological macro-molecules.
Francis Crick was James's main partner throughout this whole experience. He is described as being immersed in theories as opposed to experiments and occasionally becoming very excited over. When he became excited, he was described to have talked very loud and fast.
Crick was an English man who though 35 years old, still had no Ph.D. He was an ex-physisist and had turned to chemistry and biology. He was said to have been fascinated by the line between "the living and the non-living."
Maurice Wilkins was another ex-physisist who was also interested in DNA. At first, he did not work that much with Crick or Watson, but as time went on, and Crick and Watson got closer and closer to a solution, he started to offer more ideas and give new suggestios. Maurice also had an assistant named Rosalind Franklin.
Rosalind Franklin was a female scientist (which was very rare in those days). She was extremely skilled in the field of X-ray crystallography, which is taking X-ray pictures of molecules. She could obtain very clear pictures that had humongous contributions to the proposed double-helix model of DNA. Her relationship with Watson, Crick, and Wilkins was very volatile from the start, but as time went on (near the very end of the book) they started to work together and their work mounted into the complete and almost perfected model of a strand of DNA. Unfortunately, while her companions received a Nobel Prize for their accomplishment, she died of cancer. Since the Nobel prize is not awarded post-humously, she did not receive it.
Linus Pauling was a scientist who worked a Cal Tech and was know as one of the best chemists ever. He had been known, after he made some kind of important discovery, to put on a little production or show, which delighted the younger students. In the book, Pauling has discovered the a-helix and is very dramatic as he explains it's structure and then pulls away the sheet that is draped over his model.