The Lonely Londoners

by

Sam Selvon

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Five Past Twelve Character Analysis

One of Moses’s friends. Five is a Barbadian immigrant who is so dark-skinned that he earned the nickname “Five Past Midnight” because when a person looks at him, he or she says, “Boy, you black like midnight,” before adding, “No, you more like Five Past Twelve.” Before moving to London, Five traveled to Trinidad, where he dated a woman many of the local men thought was too light-skinned for him. As a result, they chased him away with “a tin of pitch oil” and a “box of matches,” threatening to burn him alive. After World War II, Five came to England and was in the Royal Air Force for three years before working as a truck driver making deliveries throughout England. Like many of the immigrants Moses knows, Five is somebody who, “from the time he see[s] you,” is “out to borrow money.” Similar to Cap, he’s also quite promiscuous when it comes to his love affairs, though he doesn’t leverage his relationships for money like Cap does. Instead, he eagerly seeks out parties, wanting only to have a good time when he’s in the city and not driving the delivery truck. He especially seems to enjoy giving his friend Harris—who throws upscale parties for high-society white people—a hard time, showing up at his “fetes” and turning them into raucous nights of dancing, drinking, and marijuana smoking.
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Five Past Twelve Character Timeline in The Lonely Londoners

The timeline below shows where the character Five Past Twelve appears in The Lonely Londoners. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 10
Racism Theme Icon
Another of Moses’s friends is a man who goes by Five Past Twelve, a nickname he acquired because people look at him and say, “Boy, you... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Upward Mobility Theme Icon
A hard partier, Five is Harris’s worst nightmare. Harris is a black immigrant who tries to present himself as... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Before entering the party, Five slyly tells Harris to see him afterward so that the two of them can share... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...here to bother with Tanty, eh?” As she edges her way into dancing with Harris, Five—incredibly stoned by this point—watches from afar, swooping in and starting to dance with the young... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
After dancing with Tanty, Harris rushes over to Moses and tells him Five is misbehaving, but Moses insists that he’s simply having a good time. “The next time... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...will say we are still uncivilized and don’t know how to behave properly.” At this, Five starts lecturing Harris about how he ought to have a drink, but Harris slinks off... (full context)