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Samba Diallo, the protagonist of the story, is a young gentleman belonging to the Diallobé nobility. Because he is viewed as the future of his folks, the older members of his commune scuffle to impact his way of life. As a child, Samba is sent over to the Glowing Hearth, where he is forced to rehearse the scriptures until he becomes an emblem of the spiritual beauty of religion (Islam) and the Koran as well. Later he is sent over to Paris, where he studies concepts of philosophy and science in the university. With time, he becomes well endowed in aspects of science, politics, religion, and philosophy. However, as he discusses these aspects with people in the course of his “ambiguous adventure,” Samba Diallo later realizes that he is not at ease in any of the aspects he internalized over time. When he is later recalled to Africa, he somewhere manages to experience a return of his faith, paradoxically at the moment of his demise.
Thierno (also the Teacher)
Thierno is a spiritual leader in the novel who is obsessed with spiritualism and religious matters. He only has two facets to his life, “the work of the spirit and the work of the field.” Being quite old and emaciated as well as shrunken by mortifications, contrastingly, he takes enthusiasm from mystic meditations.
Demba is a character introduced as a rival of Samba Diallo during their time at the Glowing Hearth, a place where both Demba and Samba got taught the teachings of the Koran. As Samba’s rival, Demba is often jealous of him and often uses sarcastic comments to torment him until later when the two indulge in a fight.
The Knight is Samba Diallo’s father. He is bestowed the name by Jean Lacroix, who is also a friend of Samba’s. The Knight is also a friend of the Lacroix’s and works as a civil servant in the colonial government. He forms an epitome of untainted spirituality by a western civilization that is characterized by an obsession with both science and technological advancements.
The Chief of the Diallobé
The Chief of the Diallobé is the leader of the Diallobé. The Chief is also the Most Royal Lady’s brother and Samba Diallo’s cousin. The Chief forms an emblem of indecisiveness in an era which is coupled by uncertainties that require quick decision making. As a result, he is often at crossroads, particularly with regards to matters such as allowing people to go to the foreign school; he often seeks the advice of the teacher who is also the religious leader.
The Most Royal Lady
The Most Royal lady is the older sister of the Diallobé chief and Samba Diallo’s aunt. Ironically, she is the most feared person by the countryside more than her brother, who is, in fact, chief. Having pacified the North, particularly by her firmness, “the tribes subjugated by her extraordinary personality had been kept in obedience by her prestige” the North bestowed on her the name of “the Most Royal Lady.” Her major appearance was when she called a meeting to encourage the people to send their children to the foreign school irrespective of the unknown outcome such an activity would have on their children.
Paul Lacroix is a colleague of the Knight. His prime appearance is during the discussion with the Knight with regards to matters related to the end of the world. He holds different beliefs to those of the Knight with regard to their beliefs.
Jean Lacroix is Samba Diallo’s acquaintance and Paul Lacroix’s son. Both Jean and Samba attend M. N’Daiye’s class. It is there that the two characters first met and later talk in an office belonging to Jean Lacroix’s father.
Georgette is Jean’s brother, as well as Paul Lacroix’s daughter.
Pierre Louis is a retired magistrate who served in certain parts of Samba Diallo’s country for twenty years. He retires at the appointed time after developing a disinterest in the bloody system. He tells Samba that all blacks ought to learn the languages of all the colonizing people—the whites.
Lucienne is a friend of Samba Diallo. She invites Samba over to her parent’s house, where he meets her parents. The family forms part of Samba Diallo’s “ambiguous adventure” as they interact and engage in conversation majorly aimed at understanding each other. Lucienne is also a communist.
Madame Martial is Lucienne's mother.
Paul Martial is a protestant pastor and also Lucienne’s father. He is also Madame Martial’s husband. He is described as a massive man with a face sparkling with mischief and who is seen as being prematurely old.
Pierre is Lucienne’s cousin and also a medical student introduced to Samba Diallo at the Martial’s house.
The Fool is an ally of Thierno’s. He earns the title of “The Fool” as a result of his, particularly odd clothing and his downgraded state in the Diallobé’s community. Having himself visited the West, though, under unknown circumstances, he describes the West as a mechanized and dehumanized world. When the teacher dies later in the novel, he becomes devastated. He goes on to ask Samba that he prays on the teacher’s grave, something that hastens Samba Diallo’s demise at the end.
Adele is Pierre-Louis's wife. The couple, Adele and Pierre-Louis, also have two sons, Hubert and Marc. Additionally, Hubert has a daughter whose imperfection is described by Pierre as sharing a name with Hubert's mother, Adele. Adele is described as being “a fat half-breed, covered with jewels, who was fixing a maternal gaze upon Samba Diallo."
Captain Hubert Pierre-Louis
Captain Hubert is introduced to Samba Diallo as one of Pierre-Louis's two sons. He is presented as being of the idea that only intellectuals suffer from being too clear-headed an ideology that Samba is against.
Marc is also Samba Diallo’s son and an engineer by profession. Like Samba Diallo, Marc was sent by his father to Paris. Additionally, he also shared the feeling of not belonging and always feeling like a stranger.
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