Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy

by

Mark Mathabane

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Wilfred Character Analysis

Wilfred is a white liberal from Germany who owns a “tennis ranch.” Wilfred befriends Mathabane and helps train him, gifting him with athletic equipment that Mathabane can’t afford otherwise. Wilfred hates apartheid and compares white South Africans’ racial superiority to Nazism. Wilfred thus plays an important role in Mathabane’s life, not only as a tennis mentor but as evidence to Mathabane that many white people see the evils of white supremacy and are not racists themselves. Wilfred learns from Mathabane as well, since Mathabane speaks frankly about the government’s awful treatment of black people—especially during the Soweto Uprising—which the government normally tries to hide from white people.
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Wilfred Character Timeline in Kaffir Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Wilfred appears in Kaffir Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 37
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
...white-owned tennis club that sometimes sponsors him, which is owned by a German man named Wilfred, a white liberal who treats black people well because he thinks apartheid is comparable to... (full context)
Chapter 38
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Even Wilfred is excited about Arthur Ashe’s arrival to South Africa. At the same time, another black... (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...clinic in Soweto for black tennis players. Although Mathabane is not invited as an athlete, Wilfred gives him the fare to go to Soweto anyway to try to see Ashe once... (full context)
Chapter 39
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
In 1974, after two and half years of playing tennis, Mathabane wins his first tournament. Wilfred displays the trophy in the bar at his ranch, and Mathabane becomes the pride of... (full context)
Chapter 41
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Christianity Theme Icon
...English radio station constantly, which exposes him to classical music. Through the radio station and Wilfred’s encouragement, Mathabane develops a love for classical music, though this earns him his father’s ire... (full context)
Chapter 44
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
After South African schools reopen, travel restrictions are eased enough that Mathabane can return to Wilfred’s tennis ranch after months away. Wilfred is relieved to see him—he’d thought Mathabane was dead... (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
...students over their involvement in the rebellion, so Mathabane stops going to school again. Through Wilfred, he meets another German man named Helmut who asks if Mathabane will play tennis with... (full context)
Chapter 49
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...life from black tennis.” He receives threatening anonymous letters telling him to quit. Scaramouche and Wilfred advise Mathabane to play the tournament, while Mathabane’s mother advises him to quit. One week... (full context)
Chapter 51
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
...won’t improve his game without good competition from elite white players. With Scaramouche, Andre, and Wilfred’s support, Mathabane decides to apply for membership at the Wanderer’s Club. When he arrives, he... (full context)
Chapter 53
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...which offers to underwrite all fees and tuition. He asks for letters of recommendation from Wilfred and Owen Williams and writes a letter to thank Stan. However, aside from his family,... (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
...in two months, allowing a quicker escape. Mathabane is overjoyed, as are his family and Wilfred. Owen Williams arranges to help him get his passport in time and notifies Stan that... (full context)