Last Updated on July 25, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1596
Richard and Janet Gayford
Richard and Janet Gayford are residents of Midwich. They have gone off to London to celebrate Richard’s birthday and thus miss the events of the “Dayout,” when everyone is rendered unconscious in Midwich. This sets Richard up to be the book’s narrator, as he is able to observe and relate events in the town with relative objectivity. Richard admits, “I am not a countryman, I only live there.” He is pleasantly social and good-natured, and he is stubbornly stupid when the book’s plot requires him to be. Readers never learn Richard’s actual profession, and in fact, we don’t learn much more about Richard at all, as he is a stand-in for John Wyndham and is the book’s omniscient narrator.
Richard’s wife, Janet, is portrayed as the more tough-minded member of the couple. She reacts coldly to Bernard’s suggestion that she and Richard spy on their fellow villagers, though eventually she agrees to do so as it does seem in the best interests of the town. Both are skeptical of the various fantastic explanations for events and eventually decide to leave Midwich soon after the Children are born. As Janet states,
It’s been bad enough as it is, and thank goodness we’re out of it. I’ve had enough of Midwich, and I don’t care if I never hear of the place again.
Fortunately for readers, Richard is later convinced to return to Midwich by his government friend Bernard, and so the narrator (who is apparently a very good interviewer) continues to faithfully report the story’s events.
Bernard is an old army friend of Richard’s (they were stationed in Europe together during World War II). He is now an Army Colonel and is investigating the Midwich incident. Bernard plays his cards close to his chest, gathering evidence but rarely revealing information until late in the book. Early on he asks his friends the Gayfords to basically spy on the Midwich village and report back to him on everything that happens there, to be his eyes on the ground. He is well connected throughout the town and in the government, and if anything happens in the unfortunate town, he knows about it.
When a local town boy shoots one of the Children and is subsequently willed by the Children to blow his own brains out, Bernard is on the scene and leads the human response—his army training keeps him clear-headed during this dreadful incident. Later, after a larger group of villagers, on the march to seek vengeance for the Children’s actions, are dealt with in a similar manner and violently set upon one another by the Children, Bernard is keen-minded enough to tell the skeptical chief constable,
It’s not that they are backward. The special school was opened because they are different. They are morally responsible for last night’s trouble, but that isn’t the same as being legally responsible. There’s nothing you can charge them with.
Also, Bernard’s government department does not want the Children antagonized or publicized. He is a good soldier and follows orders from his higher-ups, though later in the book, as the Children’s powers and violence escalate, he drinks a lot of whiskey to keep his nerves in check.do
Angela is Gordon Zellaby’s forty-something second wife. She discovers she is pregnant after the Dayout incident at Midwich. She finds herself recruited into the role of leading the mothers of Midwich through their pregnancy. She leads the initial town hall meeting to talk about the situation. She is portrayed as smart, patient, and observant, a well as a good leader who is sensitive but also does not brook interruptions when she is talking. Though exhausted, she goes the extra mile for her fellow mothers—she understands what they need, and she needs it too: mutual support in an impossible situation. When the...
(The entire section contains 1596 words.)
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