The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Tom Mathlong Character Analysis

Tom Mathlong is a charismatic and powerful African revolutionary leader, ostensibly an old friend of Anna’s, who is referenced in passing by characters at various points in the book. When Marion befriends Tommy and decides to become an activist, she asks Anna to help her contact Mr Mathlong, who is imprisoned and unlikely to get their messages. He represents the sort of unflinching, impactful, action-oriented political activism that Anna struggles to find for herself in the book.
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Tom Mathlong Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Tom Mathlong appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Free Women: 1
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...quit—Molly scarcely cares about politics anymore, either. They chat briefly about the Americans in London, Tom Mathlong , and Molly’s old friend De Silva, who went home to Ceylon, left his wife... (full context)
Free Women: 3
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...“bigger things,” living “for others and not myself.” She asks where “that black leader” ( Tom Mathlong ) is, and which prison he is in—she wants to help him—but Anna says he... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...save her soul.” Marion apologizes; Anna gives her the address she has asked for, although Tom Mathlong , the man she seeks, “won’t get [the letter] of course.” Marion leaves and Anna... (full context)
Free Women: 4
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...shooting himself—she wonders what happened to the part of Tommy that giggled, and then what Tom Mathlong would advise her to do. She remembers watching the demonstration, which was “fluid, experimental,” unlike... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...responsibility” suddenly seeming “to be all lies.” Marion brings tea, and Anna tells her about Tom Mathlong , who felt no discouragement or doubt about his independence struggle until he gazed out... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
Anna calls Tom Mathlong “a sort of saint,” and her voice cracks as she thinks she is going hysterical—“saint”... (full context)
The Notebooks: 4
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...chaos. She tries to “summon up younger, stronger Annas,” the Annas from Africa—and she becomes Tom Mathlong and Charlie Themba, and herself again. After a time, she returns to herself and finds... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fact, Fiction, and Authorship Theme Icon
...and student and peasant in different revolutionary struggles around the world. She imagines herself as Tom Mathlong , whose detachment is uncommon, but essential for successful revolutions. Anna falls asleep and wakes... (full context)