Gideon is the main character in the short story “No Witchcraft for Sale” by Doris Lessing. Although he is a flat character (does not change), he is also the character who pushes the plot forward.
His outer characterization informs us that he is a native African who works as a cook for the Farquars and lives with his family on his masters’ property: “He had been with her now for several years; he was one of the few natives who had his wife and children in the compound and never wanted to go home to his kraal...” (p. 1, ll. 16-18)
We also know that he “was a mission boy” (p. 1, ll. 25-26) which means that he was raised in a religious mission. However, Gideon also comes from a well-known line of local tribe healers: “Now, there’s a doctor for you. He’s the son of a famous medicine man who used to be in these parts, and there’s nothing he cannot cure.” (p. 4, ll. 30-31)
Gideon’s inner characterization presents him as a devoted servant who is deeply fond of his masters’ son, Teddy: “When Teddy learned to walk it was often Gideon who crouched before him, clucking encouragement (…) Mrs. Farquar was fond of the old cook because of his love for her child.” (p. 1, ll.11-13)
He comforts Mrs Farquar for having only one child and claims it is God’s will: “There was no second baby; and one day Gideon said: 'Ah, missus, missus, the Lord above sent this one; Little Yellow Head is the most good thing we have in our house.’ ” (p. 1, ll. 14-15)
Because Gideon was christened and raised in a religious mission, he has integrated racist views towards his own kind. He believes that he and other natives were born inferior through God’s will (ll. 23-25).
Gideon is sadly aware of the fact that his son will grow up to be a servant and Teddy a master. Still, he scolds Teddy when he frightens his son away:
‘Why did you frighten him?’ asked Gideon, gravely reproachful.
Teddy said defiantly: ‘He’s only a black boy,’ and laughed. Then, when Gideon turned away from him without speaking, his face fell. (p. 1, ll. 35-37)
Although Gideon loves Teddy and has been close to the boy ever since he was born, their relationship is still influenced by the master-servant hierarchy: “He seemed to be putting a distance between himself and Teddy, not because of resentment, but in the way a person accepts something inevitable.” (p. 1, ll. 41-42)...