In the Castle of My Skin Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1953

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Bildungsroman

Time of work: The mid-1930’s to the mid-1940’s

Locale: Creighton’s Village, Barbados

Characters DiscussedG.

G., In the Castle of My Skina young Barbadian boy who is the narrator and protagonist. He is eight years old at the opening of the novel, which spans the subsequent nine years of his life. He tells the story of his childhood, which was spent in a small village (the fictitious Creighton’s Village) in Barbados, where he attends the local school with his friends. Unlike his friends, he wins a scholarship to go to high school. After he has been graduated from high school, he goes to Trinidad to become a teacher in a small school for Venezuelan and other South American students. The novel ends on the eve of his departure to Trinidad. G. is a sensitive and imaginative child whose developing consciousness also records an important part of the history of Creighton’s Village and Barbados.

G.’s mother

G.’s mother, portrayed by G. as a person who is as capable of laughter as she is of wielding a whip to “roast his tail.” She is a capable woman who rears her son single-handedly and works hard to give him his education.

Pa

Pa, the father figure of the village. He is the repository of village history and is revered by all the villagers. He apparently earned some money in his youth in Panama, but in the novel he is quite poor. He sells his house after his wife’s death and, at the end of the novel, is preparing to move into the Alms House, knowing well that he does not have much longer to live.

Ma

Ma, his wife. She is described as balding and wearing a white cloth on her head. She is an intuitive person who is filled with foreboding at the future of Creighton’s Village. Significantly, she dies at the end of the riots.

Mr. Creighton

Mr. Creighton, the landlord who owns the village. During the course of the novel, he loses his authority to Mr. Slime. Mr. Creighton figures prominently in the riot scene, when the striking workers from the city come into the village and prepare to attack him. He walks alone through the streets of the village, fully aware of the impending danger; he is saved by the opportune arrival of Mr. Slime, whose mere presence saves Mr. Creighton’s life.

Mr. Slime

Mr. Slime, the village schoolteacher, an entrepreneur, and ultimately the person with the most power in the village. In the beginning, he teaches fifth grade in G.’s school, but he is forced to resign because of his liaison with the wife of the head teacher. He founds the Friendly Society and Penny Bank, which ultimately help him to take control of the economics of the village. He is simultaneously feared and revered by the villagers.

Trumper

Trumper, one of G.’s childhood friends. He goes to America, discovers the music of Paul Robeson, and is brought to an awareness of his racial identity. He tries to impart this newfound sense of identity to G. when he returns to Barbados.

Boy Blue

Boy Blue, another childhood friend of G. He participates in G.’s childhood adventures, along with Trumper and Bob. He eventually joins the police force in the village.

Bob

Bob, the fourth member of the quartet of children featured in the novel. He figures prominently in the riot scene when he accidentally strays into the city during the riot and returns to the village with eyewitness reports of the bloodshed in the city. He also grows up to be a policeman.

The shoemaker

The shoemaker, a significant villager. His shop is the center for intellectual debates on politics. He has the unique distinction of having read a book, a novel by J. B. Priestley that he uses as his political gospel when trying to interpret important historical events such as World War II.

Mr. Foster

Mr. Foster, another important villager. He figures prominently in various important sections of the novel. He refuses to leave his house during the flood and is carried down to the river on its roof; he has to be fished out of the water by a rescue party. During the feared riots, he assumes charge of the situation in the village. At the end of the novel, he voices his protest against the takeover of the land by Mr. Slime.

The overseer

The overseer, the middleman who negotiates between the landlord and the villagers. He is despised by the villagers for his assumption of authority and for rejecting his origins among the villagers. He later is promoted to supervisor of roads, and his pride at this event does not endear him any further to the villagers.

BibliographyBuhle, Paul. “C. L. R. James, West Indian: George Lamming Interviewed by Paul Buhle.” In C. L. R. James’s Caribbean, edited by Paget Henry and Paul Buhle. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1992. An interview with Lamming by the biographer of C. L. R. James, the first important West Indian to publish abroad, and in later life an influence on radical activists and critics of society in Britain and the United States, as well as on younger Caribbean writers, including Lamming. The interview concerns the subject of James’s influence on Lamming.Dance, Daryl Cumber. Conversations with Contemporary West Indian Writers. Leeds, England: Peepal Tree Press, 1993. A collection of interviews with West Indian writers, including Lamming. Other subjects include the Caribbean literary and political patriarch C. L. R. James, the Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott, and the prominent female novelist Jamaica Kincaid.Lamming, George. The Pleasures of Exile. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. A collection of autobiographical, interrelated essays on the perspective and concerns of the postcolonial writer, specifically in the West Indian context. Lamming discusses his own fiction and poetry as well as William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) and C. L. R. James’s classic history of the Haitian revolution, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint Louverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938). The Ann Arbor Paper backs edition includes a helpful, lucid foreword by Lamming scholar Sandra Pouchet Paquet of the University of Pennsylvania.Munro, Ian H. “George Lamming.” In Fifty Caribbean Writers, edited by Daryl Cumber Dance. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986. A biographical and critical essay on Lamming and his work, with helpful citations of critical studies of In the Castle of My Skin and Lamming’s other books.Paquet, Sandra Pouchet. Foreword to In the Castle of My Skin. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991. An excellent discussion of the novel, most fruitfully read after having read the novel.Paquet, Sandra Pouchet. The Novels of George Lamming. London: Heinemann, 1982. The first book-length study of Lamming’s work.Wright, Richard. Introduction to In the Castle of My Skin. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1954. An enthusiastic introduction to the novel’s first edition, by one of the most prominent African American novelists.
Categories: Characters