Moses Aloetta is the central and most fully realized character in the novel. A natural leader, he is generous and relatively responsible, helping to sustain his people in the wilderness that is London. Although he accepts the role of father-confessor, he sometimes resents the strain of this responsibility. He is not above having fun at the expense of others, using the elaborate calypsonian put-on and the ridicule of “picong” and “fatigue.” Moses is the voice of experience, and he views the exploits of his fellow immigrants with an often weary tolerance and a characteristic “Take it easy.” More than any other characters in the novel, Moses is reflective and often worries about his future and the unpromising pattern of his life: “From winter to winter, summer to summer, work after work. Sleep, eat, hustle pussy, work.”
Clearly Selvon began the novel with the intention of creating a central character who was distinct from his omniscient third-person narrator; as the novel progressed, however, not only the wonderfully wrought language of the narrator but also his attitudes and judgments merged with those of Moses to such a degree that both voices can be considered expressions of the same character despite the logical inconsistencies this entails.
Only Galahad and Moses himself are supplied with complete names. The use of colorful nicknames—Big City, Five Past Twelve (because he is blacker than midnight)—or only one name to identify the other characters reflects their incompleteness as personalities. Samuel Selvon provides them with superficial eccentricities which he often uses as running jokes, but few of the characters are presented as anything more than caricatures, revealing an unwillingness or inability on the part of the author to deal with them on a deeper level....
(The entire section is 739 words.)