Study Guide

Minor Characters in The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)

By Patrick Ness

Minor Characters


Hildy's probably the first good thing that happens to Todd and Viola, so it's fitting that she turns up right after their first big victory: burning down the bridge that the Mayor is trying to get across to kill them.

She's a tough lady, a peasant who spends her peaceful life at work with her husband, Tam. She's described as wearing "clothes [that] seem like real dusty leather, worn and creased for years and years with a rimmed hat and boots for ignoring mud. Like she ain't nothing more than a farmer, really" (14.40). And her attitude matches that of a hardworking peasant: She's down to earth and to-the-point: "We're farmers, pup. Simple farmers, looking for a simpler way of life" (18.69). she says.

Hildy's also a woman who will fearlessly speak her mind. She's driven to do so by looking below surface, seeing rather than looking. With this take on life, she comes to Todd and Viola's rescue more than once. She defends Todd against Matthew Lyle's prejudice toward Prentisstown in Chapter 17, telling him to "look close" (17.7) and see that he's not a man, but a boy who hasn't committed a crime himself. Like Viola, then, in Hildy we see a woman with strong instincts and a willingness to act upon them.


Tam is Hildy's meek and mild husband. His noise is full of thoughts "like a bright parade, all full of unwelcome welcome and pushy good feeling" (15.8). "Unwelcome" and "pushy" mark Todd's discomfort with happiness more than reflecting negatively on Tam, to be clear—his noise is far happier than Todd's accustomed to, and presents an alternate way of being in the world. That said, while he and Hildy are two peas in a pod, we hear more from his wife.


Francia is the formidable mayor of Farbranch, as well as Hildy's sister. She's not to be trifled with and Todd's description of her is best: "Francia don't look too convinced. I never seen arms so crossed" (18.5). But let's be fair—she's running a settlement during troubled times. And to give her more credit, her bark is worse than her bite, so with her arms still crossed, she gives Todd and Viola a safe place to stay.

Matthew Lyle

Matthew Lyle is "a walking, talking thunderstorm" (17.6), a bitter ex-Prentisstown man without a nice bone in his body. He threatens Todd on his way into Farbranch after hearing that he's from Prentisstown. The thing is, though, he acts out of fear because he used to be one of the "bad guys" himself. So he's the ultimate hypocrite when he tries to kill Todd, saying "We got a law here in this town" (19.7). Guess where Todd's law lies, Matty boy? Yeah, in his heart.


Meet Wilf, the mystical peasant that Todd and Viola find driving a cart through a herd of strange cows. He gives them a ride and doesn't seem to have Noise. He isn't very bright, which serves Todd and Viola's purposes—he doesn't seem to curious about what they're doing.

Wilf serves as Todd's lifesaver on a second occasion, too: After a nasty run-in with Aaron where he also loses Viola, good ol' Wilf and his wife pick Todd off the side of the road and nurse him back to health. Thanks, you two.

Doctor Snow

The main question we have to ask is: Is Doctor Snow good or bad? He's friendly as can be and saves Todd's life, but he's also part of a weird, cultish settlement that doesn't involve women in any decision-making, and even makes them live outside the city. Plus, there's a weird calm in his town that comes from constantly playing music. The verdict's still out for us when it comes to this guy… but what do you think?