The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

William’s good friend and Chief Wimbe’s son. Gilbert has the money to stay in school even during the famine, representing the importance of education in William’s life. Gilbert also helps out William with his windmill project and other inventions, both with funds and labor. Gilbert is a sign of how important community support is to William’s accomplishments in the book.

Gilbert Quotes in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind quotes below are all either spoken by Gilbert or refer to Gilbert. 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:
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the William Morrow edition of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind published in 2010.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Although Geoffrey, Gilbert, and I grew up in this small place in Africa, we did many of the same things children do all over the world, only with slightly different materials. And talking with friends I’ve met from America and Europe, I now know this is true. Children everywhere have similar ways of entertaining themselves. If you look at it this way, the world isn’t so big.

Related Characters: William Kamkwamba (speaker), Gilbert, Geoffrey
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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Gilbert Character Timeline in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The timeline below shows where the character Gilbert appears in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
William’s best friends are his cousin Geoffrey and Gilbert, the son of the chief of the Wimbe district. Gilbert’s father is known simply as... (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
On this particular day, William and Geoffrey find Gilbert singing along to the radio in his room. They use their secret slang to say... (full context)
Chapter 2
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon
...named Shabani who boasts that he is a sing’anga who can perform mangolomera. William and Gilbert don’t believe Shabani, but they cannot be sure. When William is nine, he is teased... (full context)
Chapter 4
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
William turns 13 in 2000 and starts to grow up. He, Gilbert, and Geoffrey spend less time hunting and more time playing bawo, a mancala game, in... (full context)
Chapter 5
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
Gilbert and his family can afford electricity, and William is amazed that Gilbert can just touch... (full context)
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
...the harsh sun. One day in late September, William finishes this work and goes with Gilbert to the trading center, where a large commotion of women has gathered. Gilbert explains that... (full context)
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
...that the farmers are forced to sell. Women and children gather around Chief Wimbe’s (and Gilbert’s) house, hoping for a handout. (full context)
Chapter 6
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
...Migrant workers take longer hours for even less food at the end of the day. Gilbert stays at his doorway for long hours giving out handouts to the crowds of people... (full context)
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
...way to help Geoffrey, too busy with his own fields. William then goes to see Gilbert, finding Gilbert’s house surrounded by people looking for a Christmas handout from Chief Wimbe. Even... (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
With Geoffrey and Gilbert busy with their own troubles on Christmas, William goes to see Charity at the mphala.... (full context)
Chapter 7
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
...from the thrift store but he can’t get it clean without soap. Still, William meets Gilbert on the first day of class, happy to be back at school. (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
William and Gilbert walk forty minutes to Kachokolo and gather in the yard with the other new students.... (full context)
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
Aside from uniform shoes, William’s family also cannot afford school books. Gilbert says that William can look on with him. Conditions at Kachokolo are not much better... (full context)
The Business of Survival Theme Icon
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
William sadly tells Gilbert the next morning that he has to drop out. With Gilbert at school, William goes... (full context)
Chapter 9
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
...library each morning and studies under the blue gum tree in his yard all afternoon. Gilbert helps William stay on track by loaning William his notes each day, but William still... (full context)
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon
One Saturday, Gilbert and William meet at the library. William finds a science textbook with diagrams and pictures... (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
When the school term ends, Gilbert and William go back to the library looking for something fun to read. William stumbles... (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
...through the abandoned scrap yard of a large tobacco estate near Kachokolo school. William and Gilbert had often played there, but William now sees the wealth of materials the scrap yard... (full context)
Chapter 10
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
...whether his independent study was enough to keep him in line with the other students. Gilbert and William walk to Kachokolo together the next morning, and William enjoys seeing his old... (full context)
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon
...that William has gone crazy digging through garbage. With Geoffrey away working with Uncle Musaiwale, Gilbert is William’s only supporter. Even Agnes begins to worry that William will never have a... (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon
...into blades, William now needs nuts and bolts to connect the blades to the rotor. Gilbert steps in and buys William a fresh bag of nuts and bolts when all the... (full context)
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
A month later, William still has nothing for a generator and complains to Gilbert that his windmill dream will never come true. Just then, a young man on a... (full context)
Chapter 11
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon
With the windmill test successful, William, Geoffrey, and Gilbert begin to build a real tower. Gathering wood from the same blue gum grove where... (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
At 7 the next morning, Geoffrey and Gilbert return to help William hoist the windmill on top of the tower. Using Agnes’ clothesline... (full context)
Rebirth, Recycling, and Reinvention Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
William then starts to wire electricity into his room. Gilbert again helps William buy supplies, making a deal with Charity for quality, insulated copper wire.... (full context)
Chapter 13
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon
Soon after Agnes returns home from the hospital, Gilbert tells William that Chief Wimbe is very ill. After a few months, Chief Wimbe dies... (full context)
Chapter 14
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
...of school he missed. William packs everything he owns and says goodbye to Geoffrey and Gilbert, making them promise to take care of his windmill. William travels to the small town... (full context)
Chapter 15
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
Education and Entrepreneurship Theme Icon
Science vs. Superstition and Magic Theme Icon
...village in many practical ways and give his family better medical care. He also repays Gilbert for all the help that Gilbert offered with the windmill, paying Gilbert’s school tuition as... (full context)
Epilogue
Malawian Culture and African Community Theme Icon
...gets the chance to inform President Mutharika about the amazing things that he, Geoffrey, and Gilbert did in their little village – just as Mutharika provided government aid to farmers. A... (full context)