Born a Crime


Trevor Noah

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Trevor Noah

Now an internationally renowned comedian, the narrator and protagonist of Born a Crime was born in 1984 to a black Xhosa mother (Patricia) and a white Swiss father (Robert). Trevor’s very… read analysis of Trevor Noah

Trevor’s Mother / Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah

Trevor’s devout, fearless, and independent mother. The unwanted middle child of Temperance and Frances Noah, she moves from Soweto to the Xhosa homeland in her teenage years, where she works on the family farm… read analysis of Trevor’s Mother / Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah


Abel is Trevor’s abusive alcoholic stepfather, Andrew’s biological father, and Patricia’s husband. From Trevor’s childhood onwards, when he and his mother bring their Volkswagen in for repairs, the auto mechanic Abel is… read analysis of Abel


Trevor’s younger brother, the son of Abel and Patricia. Trevor and Andrew are never particularly close—Andrew is nine years younger and much closer to his father, whereas Trevor fears and avoids Abel. This… read analysis of Andrew

Trevor’s Father / Robert

Trevor’s reclusive father, a Swiss expatriate and restauranteur with a disdain for apartheid who opened (and closed) one of South Africa’s first integrated restaurants, then illegally lent Patricia a room in a white area… read analysis of Trevor’s Father / Robert
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Trevor’s Grandmother / Frances Noah

Trevor’s incisive, devout grandmother, who runs the family’s two-room household (with roughly a dozen residents) in Soweto. Patricia has a tumultuous relationship with Frances in her youth, but they later grow to trust… read analysis of Trevor’s Grandmother / Frances Noah

Trevor’s Grandfather / Temperance Noah

Trevor’s bipolar, eccentric grandfather, who loves chatting up Soweto’s women (even though he is remarried after divorcing Frances). When Patricia tries to move out of her mother’s house and live with him… read analysis of Trevor’s Grandfather / Temperance Noah


Trevor’s blind, elderly great-grandmother, who spends all her time sitting next to the gas stove in Frances’s house in Soweto. Because she is immobile and only occasionally chats with Frances, Trevor considers… read analysis of Koko


Trevor’s protective, responsible older cousin who always follows the rules and helps Trevor get out of sticky situations (like when the other colored kids in Eden Park steal his bicycle, or when he gets… read analysis of Mlungisi


Trevor’s beloved dog in Highlands North, who is beautiful but “dumb as shit,” as she never responds to commands. Abel kicks her all the time and eventually relegates her to the yard; Trevor… read analysis of Fufi


The son of a domestic worker in the Johannesburg suburbs who goes to high school with Trevor and is also “naughty as shit.” They spend hours wandering around the city and shoplift liquor-filled chocolates from… read analysis of Teddy


The shrewd and manipulative son of a domestic worker in Highlands North who resells Trevor’s pirated CDs at his “proper ghetto school,” Northview. Tim is always cooking up a scheme: he once pretends that… read analysis of Tim


One of Trevor’s friends who, along with Tim, helps him resell pirated CDs. Sizwe is sharp, popular, and good-hearted: he “[brings] out the best in everybody.” He lives in Alexandra and convinces Trevor… read analysis of Sizwe


Trevor’s prom date, with whom Tim sets him up in exchange for a better commission on the pirated CDs they work together to sell. Babiki is incredibly beautiful and fashionable, which intimidates Trevor. When… read analysis of Babiki


One of Trevor and Sizwe’s friends and their crew’s star dancer, whom Trevor compares to “a jellyfish if it could walk on land.” Hitler becomes a local celebrity, although his name gets the group… read analysis of Hitler
Minor Characters
Trevor’s youngest brother, the unplanned son of Patricia and Abel, who is born when Trevor is roughly 18. Isaac is four years old when Abel shoots Patricia in the head.