Study Guide

Rhonda Kazembe in The Mysterious Benedict Society

By Trenton Lee Stewart

Rhonda Kazembe

A Very Young Adult

Rhonda Kazembe isn't much older than Reynie and the other kids. We know this because she's easily able to blend in with the other test takers at the Monk Building. Well, blend isn't exactly the word, seeing as how we hear that "her appearance was striking—indeed, even startling" (1.79), but most of that is due to the way she's dressed and her green wig. But she does fit in, at least when it comes to the age thing.

Reynie, Sticky, and Kate all refer to her as a girl, whereas they call Number Two the pencil woman. See the difference? They all assume Rhonda is their age, and are surprised to find out that she's an adult. And it's not until she sits down with them at the entrance to Mr. B's house that they figure it out. It is then that "Reynie ha[s] a closer look at her … [and] realize[s] something that he'd missed before. 'You're not even a child!' he exclaimed. 'You're a grown-up!'" (3.91), to which Rhonda replies: "A very small, very young grown-up, yes" (3.92).

It's important that she's so young because she provides a bridge, age-wise, between the kids, Number Two, and Mr. Benedict. And Milligan, we suspect, is about midway between the ages of Number Two and Mr. B. This shows a couple of things.

A Couple of Things

First, Mr. B has been administering his tests in an attempt to assemble his team of children for quite some time. Number Two passed them a few years before Rhonda, and Rhonda, as a very young grown up, is probably somewhere in the eighteen to twenty-two range (making Number Two twenty-one to twenty-five years old or so). This means these tests have likely been going on for ten to fifteen years.

And second, once we're able to put all these people's ages in perspective (Constance, the youngest, is two, and Mr. B, the oldest, is at least fifty), and see what a range we have, we notice something really cool: all of these people are working together more or less as equals. Despite their age differences, they all play an important role in the bigger picture, they're all valuable to the team, and they're all treated with respect.

That last piece—the respect thing?—is one of our favorite parts of The MBS. We're used to the phrase respect your elders—we hear that one all the time—but in this book, Trenton Lee Stewart is definitely saying respect your youngsters, too. And that's a message Shmoop can really get behind. And in front of. And next to. Yeah, Shmoop's all over that one.

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