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Characters

Meet the Cast

Reverend Stephen Kumalo

When we try to pin down a personality for our main character Stephen Kumalo, it's actually kind of difficult. Who is this guy? We know that he is a Christian man of faith, that he is a priest, that...

Father Vincent

Father Vincent is a young, "rosy-cheeked" (1.11.7) English priest who lives at the Mission House with Msimangu. (We're emphasizing that he's rosy-cheeked because that is how is described when he fi...

Absalom

Absalom is Kumalo's only child, and he's also one of the main reasons that Kumalo arrives in Johannesburg in the first place: Kumalo wants to track down the son who has stopped writing home to Ndot...

Reverend Theophilus Msimangu

The Reverend Theophilus Msimangu's first name comes from the Ancient Greek meaning "friend of God" (source). This name makes total sense for Msimangu's character. After all, he's a wise and holy ma...

John Kumalo

John Kumalo is our Kumalo's little brother. He owns a shop in Johannesburg, but his real pride and joy is his politicking. He gives rousing speeches about taking back what white employers owe to th...

Gertrude

Gertrude is Kumalo's little sister—much littler, in fact, since she is twenty-five years and a whole generation younger than Kumalo. Before the beginning of the novel, Gertrude's husband left her...

Absalom's Girl

Absalom's lady friend shares some characteristics with Gertrude, Kumalo's sister. She has had a number of different boyfriends, none of whom were actually legally married to her (though she refers...

The Young Man From the Reformatory

A reformatory is like a reform school or a detention center for youths. This "young man" is a white guy who works at the reform school where Absalom was placed after first getting into trouble with...

James Jarvis

James Jarvis owns a wealthy farm accurately named "High Place" in the hills above Ndotsheni. Like Kumalo, Jarvis travels to Johannesburg because of family tragedy: his son, Arthur, is Absalom's sho...

Arthur Jarvis

We find out about Arthur Jarvis's shooting long before we know for sure that his father James Jarvis owns the farm next to Ndotsheni or that it's Absalom who broke into Arthur's house and killed hi...

Minor Characters

John HarrisonOkay, this family relation is kind of complicated: John Harrison is Mary Jarvis's brother. Mary Jarvis is Arthur Jarvis's widow. So we guess he's, like, James Jarvis's son-in-law? Sort...
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