Oroonoko

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Governor Byam Character Analysis

A deputy governor in Suriname, Byam is not afraid to use low and dishonorable tactics to keep things running smoothly on the sugar plantations. He is not well regarded amongst the colonists, who all love Caesar (Oroonoko) more and dislike the governor’s manipulation of him. Byam initially pretends to be a great friend to Caesar, and promises him that he will one day be free, along with his wife and child, but in actuality Byam never intends to liberate them. He even lies to Caesar during the standoff in the forest, promising Caesar his freedom, but later breaks the contract they sign. Before this betrayal, however, Imoinda wounds Byam in the shoulder with a poisoned arrow.

Governor Byam Quotes in Oroonoko

The Oroonoko quotes below are all either spoken by Governor Byam or refer to Governor Byam. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism Theme Icon
).
4. Oroonoko’s Revolt Quotes

But Caesar told him there was no faith in the white men, or the gods they adored; who instructed them in principles so false that honest men could not live amongst them; though no people professed so much, none performed so little.

Related Characters: Prince Oroonoko (speaker), Governor Byam
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Governor Byam Character Timeline in Oroonoko

The timeline below shows where the character Governor Byam appears in Oroonoko. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
4. Oroonoko’s Revolt
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...if they are content to suffer “the lash,” and they reply “no” in unison. Then Tuscan, the tallest and most elegant-looking slave of the crowd, interrupts Caesar’s speech. Bowing at Caesar’s... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...the journey. Men can take turns carrying tired children, and they can collectively gather food. Tuscan then asks what they should do. Caesar replies that they will travel towards the sea... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Deputy Governor Byam, the leader of the Parhamites, leads a band carrying whips, rusted guns (for show), and... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...to yield and leave the fighting to Caesar. Soon, only two fighters remain beside Caesar, Tuscan, and Imoinda. The rest have fled. (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...skilled with her bow. She wounds several of the whites with her poisoned arrows, including Byam. The narrator notes that he would have died if his Indian mistress had not sucked... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
Byam tells Caesar that his decision to revolt was rash, and that Byam’s men have stopped... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...plantation. Upon reaching the place where slaves are whipped, however, the Parhamites grab Caesar and Tuscan, who are both surprised and exhausted. The colonists bind the men tightly and proceed to... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
...his lashing, Caesar makes no sound and does not struggle. He only looks angrily at Byam, and at each one of the runaway slaves who now take turns whipping him. The... (full context)
5. Oroonoko’s Revenge
Honor  Theme Icon
...great pain. While they nurse him back to health, he confides his plan to kill Byam, whatever it takes. Caesar pledges to do no harm to the women and Trefry, who... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Byam, meanwhile, has been recovering from Imoinda’s poisoned arrow, and has also been planning his own... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
At the same time, Trefry goes to Byam and tells him to stay away from his Lord’s servants (meaning Caesar) and that his... (full context)
Love and Obedience Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...never go back home to Coramantien, and accepts that he will be killed for murdering Byam. These thoughts do not trouble him, but what makes him truly sorrowful is thinking about... (full context)
Love and Obedience Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...is going to kill her to protect her from a disgraceful fate after he kills Byam. Hearing this news, Imoinda kneels before Caesar and begs him not to leave her a... (full context)
Love and Obedience Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...follow Imoinda into the afterlife, but only stops when he thinks of his vendetta against Byam—which cost him the life of his beloved. (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
...They think that some accident has befallen the pair. A search party heads out, including Tuscan, who is now perfectly reconciled with Byam. They don’t travel far when the powerful stench... (full context)
Honor  Theme Icon
...for murdering her. Ignoring their questions, Caesar tells them to go back, and to tell Byam that he is lucky that Caesar’s body is too weak to exact revenge. (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
When the search party returns, Byam’s Council decides that now is the perfect time to seize Caesar and carry out their... (full context)
Betrayal Theme Icon
Love and Obedience Theme Icon
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
Tuscan is moved by Caesar’s determination, and cries out that he loves him and won’t let... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Betrayal Theme Icon
...falls ill and leaves Parham House to stay at Colonel Martin’s. While she is away, Byam sends Trefry on a hoax errand upriver. Then a wild Irishman named Banister, who is... (full context)
Freedom and Slavery Theme Icon
Honor  Theme Icon
...Caesar asks them if he is going to be whipped or killed. The men of Byam’s Council cry out that he won’t escape with only a whipping. Caesar blesses their decision,... (full context)