The Lonely Londoners


Sam Selvon

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Tanty Bessy Character Analysis

Tolroy’s elderly aunt, who surprises him by unexpectedly accompanying his mother to London. A woman who has spent her life in Jamaica, she is unaccustomed to life in the big city. As such, she tends to stay within her own neighbrohood, making frequent trips to a grocery store that stocks Jamaican products. She constantly reminds Tolroy that she was an instrumental caregiver to him when he was growing up, and she is fiercely protective of her family. When Agnes finally runs away from her abusive husband, Lewis, Tanty refuses to tell Tolroy where the young woman has gone, knowing that Tolroy will pass the information along to Lewis. Despite her old-fashioned ways, Tanty is also often adventurous and fun, as is the case when she finally ventures outside her small neighborhood anrides the metro and a double-decker bus, or when she embarrasses the demure Harris at one of his swanky parties by forcing him to dance with her in front of the high-society white people he wants so badly to impress.
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Tanty Bessy Character Timeline in The Lonely Londoners

The timeline below shows where the character Tanty Bessy appears in The Lonely Londoners. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Upward Mobility Theme Icon
...sees his mother coming off the train. To his surprise, she’s followed by his aunt, Tanty Bessy, and his relatives Lewis and Agnes, along with their two children. His mother explains... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Tanty tells the reporter that Jamaicans come to London because there are more employment opportunities in... (full context)
Section 5
Romance and Sex Theme Icon rooms for them in the same boarding house in which he himself lives. While Tanty and Ma get situated, Agnes and Lewis decide to live in a nearby house, and... (full context)
Romance and Sex Theme Icon
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...also continues to beat Agnes, who sometimes flees to Tolroy’s house to take shelter with Tanty and Ma, though she always comes back the next day. “Why don’t you leave that... (full context)
Section 6
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
The narrator explains that Tanty lives in an area known as the Working Class, where the streets are packed and... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Tanty shops every Saturday at the grocery store that stocks West Indian delicacies, where she consorts... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
Tanty is comfortable existing in London’s Working Class, but she never ventures beyond its small boundaries... (full context)
Section 10
Immigration and Community Theme Icon
...Moses, Harris asks him to “keep an eye on Five.” At this point, Ma and Tanty arrive at the party along with Tolroy and Lewis, and Tanty starts embarrassing Harris by... (full context)
Immigration and Community Theme Icon they make their way to the dance floor. After only a few moments, though, Tanty appears and puts her hand on Harris’s shoulder, demanding that he dance with her. “What... (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... (full context)