‘Characterisation’ and ‘character list’ in Mine boy by Peter Abraham

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  1. Xuma

Xuma is the main character and protagonist of the narrative “Mine Boy”. Xuma is portrayed to the reading audience with multiple features which might be quite contrasting. The novelist describes him not fearful, when he decides not to run from the scene upon police raid, and another sign of courage displayed by him at the end of the novel when he single-handedly delivered himself to the police. However, he could also be soft hearted as instances where he too trusts in paddy’s girlfriend, Di, to tell her about her relationship with Eliza. He leaves his family’s farm in the economically depressed north to work in Johannesburg where the attitudes and behaviours of the people seem strange to him. Xuma is a handsome young man also said to be good hearted and naive. Xuma is in love with Eliza but leaves her as a result of her confiscated feelings. Xuma eventually works at the Gold mine. He became friend with Johannes, who also work in the goldmine in Johannesburg. He misinterpreted leah’s kindness otherwise, and fell truly in love with Eliza. He became a team leader in the goldmine after being given authority to control by Paddy O’she. He’s quite conflicted in his opinion of how the people in the city do, and believe the countryside’s are more peaceful with less adherence to Apartheid rules.


  1. Eliza

Eliza is Leah’s niece. She’s a beautiful, young school teacher. She’s described as smart. Eliza is an object to Xuma’s feelings. It’s depicted in the novel that Eliza is usually odd-hearted and she confiscated in her feelings as she wishes to be a white and acts like the whites do. This action of hers makes her to leave Xuma due to her confiscated mindset. Eliza in Mine Boy represent the unconscious mind of Sigmund Freud as her constant mind conflict keep playing out. Knowing what one wants is one thing and admitting is another. His affection for xuma is unmatched but he won’t stoop low to stay forever with person like Xuma as it will contrast her hopes and aspiration of becoming the white-idealize person she wants to be. She eventually left Xuma after many thoughts running through her mind. The Novelist used literary techniques like Stream of Consciousness to understands what goes on in her mind.

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  1. Leah

Leah is a smart beer seller. She’s the woman who gives Xuma an abode when he reaches Johannesburg for the first time. Leah frequently dodges from the police because blacks aren’t allowed to sell beer. Leah is strange in her act of kindness as Xuma also fails to understand who she is. Leah is Eliza’s aunt. Leah has a violent man called Dladla who she keeps as a play thing. At the end of the novel, Leah is caught and arrested by the police. Leah came almost from the same cultural place in the southern part of where Xuma hailed, it was soon yet realize that this coupled her likeness and act of kindness towards Xuma, who happens to be the protagonist of the novel. Xuma at once misinterpreted her kind-hearted embracing act for a fling or an affection towards him, however, it was the least of Leah’s thought, her niece was in love with xuma but conflicted in her decision of her human person


4. Maisy:

She is one of Leah’s worker, who always seemed happy, she is jovial, cheerful, a carefree. She is also in love with Xuma, the protagonist of the play, she always made sure everyone is happy, especially Xuma. She also worked as a maid in a white woman house. Maisy however, later gets the love she deserves from Xuma after being betrayed by his (Xuma) first love. She sometimes move with Xuma to the countryside to escape away from the stress faced by the city people.


5. Daddy:

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Daddy is a father figure to Leah, he was always drunk and Xuma says he has never seen daddy sober. It is however known through the character of Ma plank that daddy was once respected and educated man but wasn’t truly happy. He soon became a clownish character in the novel. Beer drinking and alcohol consumption made him feel free and good, Daddy later died of internal injury after been hit by a car. That was the one-time Xuma saw daddy sober.


6. Dladla

Dladla was also a drunkard Leah sees as ‘plaything’ she only used him and keep him around to past good times as her husband was in jail. Dladla also died but it was never revealed the who or what killed him. The narrative conveyed to the reading audience that Dladla snitches on Leah to the police on her illicit alcohol sales.

7Lena :

Lena is portrayed by the Novelist as a mixed-race lady, i.e. either of the parent being black and another being white. This however does not give her automatic passport of not being a victim of the apartheid subjugation, this is as a result that she and the other brown skin persons are still referred to as black. Lena works at Leah’s place and she is very romantically involved in Johannes, who later died when the mine collapse.


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