The most important character in the short story “No Witchcraft for Sale” by Doris Lessing is Gideon, the native cook. However, because Gideon’s relationship with his employers and their son is also very important, we will also briefly analyze the Farquars and Teddy.
The scientists and members of the native population are collective characters which are relevant for the social setting.
We will analyze Mr. and Mrs. Farquar as a collective character because the author offers only a few details that individualize them.
From their outer characterization, we find out that they are white farm owners (p. 2, l. 32) in Africa and that they have only one child, a son named Teddy. Furthermore, they are probably relatively well-off as they can afford to increase their cook’s salary (15-16).
Most of the story focuses on Mrs. Farquar and her inner characterization. We find out that Mrs. Farquar is very proud of being able to conceive a son: “They congratulated Mrs. Farquar as if she had achieved a very great thing, and she felt that she had—her smile for the lingering, admiring natives was warm and grateful.” (p. 1, ll. 4-5)
Both Mrs. and Mr. Farquar are described as “very religious people” (p. 1, l. 26). Mrs. Farquar grows fond of the cook, Gideon, because of the way he treats her son and because they share the same religious views: “Mrs. Farquar was fond of the old cook because of his love for her child.” (p. 1, l. 13); “The Farquars were very religious people; and this shared feeling about God bound servant and masters even closer together.” (p. 1, ll. 26-27)
Because Mrs. Farquar does not know how to show her gratitude to Gideon for taking care of Teddy and loving him, she chooses to raise the man’s wages, both helping him and confirming the master-servant relationship between them.
The Farquars are religious people and, along with Gideon, they also believe that it is God’s will for them to be superior and for the African natives to be inferior, showing thus the inherent racism of many religious views at that time:
Teddy is a secondary character in the short story. He is mostly presented during his early childhood years and briefly as a schoolboy at the end of the story.
His outer characterization presents him as the only son of the Farquars, a child with “downy golden head” (p.1, l. 3) and “blue eyes” (p. 1, ll. 3-4). His blonde hair makes Gideon give the boy the nickname “Little Yellow Head” (p. 1, l. 7).
Teddy’s inner characterization presents him as a playful and curious child: “The two little children would gaze at each other with a wide, interested gaze, and once Teddy put out his hand curiously to touch the black child’s cheeks and hair.” (p. 1, ll. 20-23)
However, as Teddy grows up, he becomes aware of the social differences between himself and the native children and assumes the typical superiority of the whites: