Houseboy: Novel Analysis Part 4: Characterisation

Houseboy: Novel Analysis Part 4: Characterisation

Characterization is the writer’s process of creating characters in the story. In literary works, characters are often imaginary who are created out of author's imagination. It also involves identifying the characters in a story and analyzing their physical, emotional, and psychological traits.
In the novel, Houseboy, the author has successfully created the following characters: 

  • He is the main character.
  • He is named Joseph after being baptized.
  • His family is poor that is why he runs away.
  • He serves as male house servant, houseboy, to several white men; Fr. Gilbert and Commandant.
  • He is fascinated by European ways of life at first, but later he realizes that the white men are hypocrites.
  • He keeps diaries which are later narrated by other Cameroonian.
  • He reflects child who are overworked in child labor.
  • He is poor African man.
  • He is disappointed by the way Toundi acts, especially by running away to Fr. Gilbert.
  • He represents Africans who are oppressed, exploited, and humiliated by the white men.
  • He is portrayed as a very harsh and brutal man especially when he beats Toundi regularly and his wife as well
  • He likes to use abusive language.
  • He lives by trapping porcupine for food.
  • She is Agricultural Engineers house girl.
  • She sleeps with both her Boss and Toundi. Thus she is also Toundis girlfriend.
  • She steals money from her Boss and run away to Spanish Guinea.
  • He lives in Spanish Guinea.
  • He is very kind.
  • He is also a superstitious man.
  • He is one of the host of Toundi at Spanish Guinea. He hosts him with a help from his wife.
  • He is a Catholic priest/padre.
  • He lives in a missionary center.
  • He is portrayed as an oppressor, exploiter who humiliates his people despite the fact that he is a religious man.
  • He represents all leaders who are hypocrites, that is, who preach what they dont act.
  • People like him are famously called those who preach water, but drink wine.
  • He dies in a motorcycle accident and the other white men call him a martyr because he has died in foreign land.
  • He is an assistant to Fr. Gilbert.
  • He is also portrayed as a racist, exploiter and oppressor.
  • He is also hypocrite like other white men and other leaders.
  • When Fr. Gilbert dies, he takes his position.
  • He becomes worse than Fr. Gilbert to Toundi.
  • He introduces Toundi to Commandant and warn him about the boy by saying that he is lazy and should be punished and harassed as well.
  • He is the white Chief of Police Force.
  • He is harsh and very brutal to Africans.
  • He often allows his police to torture even kill Africans innocently.
  • He raids Toundis place twice and orders Toundi to be severly beaten when he is taken into jail.
  • He is assistant Dangan Police Chief.
  • He comes from Gabon as a mercenary.
  • He likes Toundi and helps him escape the jail.
MADAME SUZY. (Madame Deccazy)
  • She is the Commandants wife. She is also beautiful.
  • She has an extra marital affair with the Prison Director, M. Moreau.
  • She seems to like the Commandant Residence employees, but later she changes the attitude towards them.
  • She treats Toundi unfairly.
  • He is a White man who is a Prison Director.
  • He is portrayed as a cruel, very harsh, promiscuous, and oppressive man.
  • He has bad morals. This is revealed when he begin an affair with Madame Suzy, Commandants wife.
  • He hates Toundi because he thinks that he knows and has spread the information about his affair with Madame.
  • He is the most handsome man in Dangan.
  • He also makes love with his house girl, Sophie.
  • He warns Toundi not to sleep with Sophie during the village trip.
  • He a wealthy Greek man who owns the European club.
  • He was saved from being eaten in equatorial forests by wild animals.
  • He hates Africans so much that he let dogs at them tot away from th European club.
  • He is an old cook of the Commandant. He has served him for about 30 years.
  • He is portrayed as a very competent in his work of cooking even Madame congratulates him for keeping the kitchen well.
  • He is the laundry man of Madame.
  • He detects that Madame sleeps with Prison Director.
  • He is a gentlemen who lives in the commandant residence
  • He notices Prison Director leaving Commandants residence late in the evening.
  • He is portrayed as lazy and likes sleeping all the time.
  • She is Madame's new chamber maid who used to live as a prostitute at the Coast.
  • She arrives at Commandants Residence bare foot.
  • She advises Toundi to leave the Commandants Residence because the commandant was planning to kill him.

The Herald (2013) Accessed on 19/07/2016

Oyono, F (1956) Houseboy, Heinemann African Writers Series.

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