Welcome to Our Hillbrow

by

Phaswane Mpe

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Sammy Character Analysis

Sammy is Refentše’s best friend in Hillbrow. He’s known Refentše for years, and he used to help Refentše handle depressive bouts when they were younger. Sammy is dating Bohlale, whom he loves. However, he cheats on her with Lerato, after she calls him to her apartment asking for help with Refentše. Sammy also occasionally goes out drinking, and one night a woman at a bar drugs him. He brings this woman back home, insulting Bohlale and even making her sleep on the floor. This behavior causes Bohlale to ask Refentše for help, which leads to Refentše and Bohlale having sex. Sammy never finds out about this, and he does not stop going out drinking. One night, he is stabbed, and Refentše miraculously finds him before he bleeds out. Refentše rushes Sammy to the hospital, and Sammy’s first request when he wakes up is for Bohlale, which makes Refentše think that their relationship will survive. However, Bohlale is hit by a car on her way to the hospital, and she dies. After Bohlale dies, Sammy begins to lose his mind. Of the four close friends (Refentše, Lerato, Sammy, and Bohlale), Sammy is the only one alive at the end of the story—though this is hardly a consolation, because he has gone mad with grief.

Sammy Quotes in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The Welcome to Our Hillbrow quotes below are all either spoken by Sammy or refer to Sammy. 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:
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
).
Chapter 2  Quotes

You gave her a hug, an embrace. The spiritual support had to be backed up by a physical one. You knew well enough that physical touch could work wonders. You yourself always felt better when a friend gave you a hug, a pat on the shoulder—something like that—when you were sad, hurt or even when you had achieved. So you did what you liked friend and close, caring relatives to do for you.

Bohlale returned your sympathy with a hug, an embrace of her own.

The boy in your trousers decided to express his sympathies too. You felt your heart begin to beat quite fast.

Related Characters: Refentše , Bohlale, Sammy, Lerato
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

That day, when Lerato brought you food—she was an outstanding cook—you told her you were not hungry. She knew immediately that things were not right. She was used to you swallowing once or twice more, even when you were already full, just to satisfy her […]. When you again refused her food and—the second indication—showed no sign of enjoying the games you often played together, she began to drift into depression. More so because when she asked what was wrong, you said:

Nothing.

Nothing could not be a satisfactory answer when love was crumbling before her eyes.

Related Characters: Refentše , Lerato , Sammy, Bohlale
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

As it happened, you were spared the need for decision. Because the very next day Bohlale, on her way to visit Sammy at the hospital, was knocked over by a speeding car that jumped the red robot. It was driven by fleeing hijackers fleeing a pursuing convoy of Johannesburg Murder and Robber Squad cars[…]. Bohlale was run over because, although she had made way for the speeding cars, the hijackers had lost control of their newly appropriated vehicle. They ran into her right where she stood on the pavement. After her death, any confession seemed a needless complication.

Related Characters: Refentše , Bohlale, Sammy
Related Symbols: Hit-and-Runs
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

For every new personal experience adds to our knowledge of life and living, death and dying. Every act of listening, seeing, smelling, feeling, tasting is a reconfiguring of the story of our lives.

Yet, when Lerato and Sammy provided you with the chance to add to your storehouse of experience, you could not rise to it. It was at that point that you began to brood, a tinge too gloomily, about love and friendship and the whole purpose of living.

Related Characters: Refentše , Lerato , Sammy
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

You wished, Refentše, that you could return to Johannesburg to let Lerato know that she was never alone in these acts of well-intentioned generosity that we call betrayal, that you too had tasted their bitter-sweet fruits. But you were powerless. You could not return to Alexandra, where Lerato was staying at her mother’s house, when she swallowed the tablets. You could not, because you were not in control of life in this Heaven. Just as you were not in control of life on Earth.

Related Characters: Refentše , Lerato , Sammy
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Welcome to Our Hillbrow LitChart as a printable PDF.
Welcome to Our Hillbrow PDF

Sammy Character Timeline in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The timeline below shows where the character Sammy appears in Welcome to Our Hillbrow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...a similar fashion and found Lerato, the “Bone of his Heart,” in the arms of Sammy, their mutual friend. This led to a spiraling depression for Refentše and, eventually, suicide. (full context)
Chapter 2 
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...reasons to “rethink his self-righteousness.” This is because Refentše eventually had sex with his friend Sammy’s lover, Bohlale. (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...that night, Bohlale called Refentše and asked him to come over. She was distraught because Sammy had brought home a woman he’d met at a bar in a seedy part of... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Refentše sat next to Bohlale, wondering what could have made his friend Sammy go to that part of town, which he didn’t even like. Then Refentše looked into... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...“efforts at fidelity” ended up being useless—not because of Refentše, but because of Lerato and Sammy’s affair. These are the topics—"love, betrayal, seduction, suicide”—that Refentše could have written about if he... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...Refentše couldn’t turn to his mother for comfort when he found out about Lerato and Sammy’s betrayal. He also couldn’t go to his closest friend, since Sammy was one of the... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...his mother, and Lerato. The narrator calls Refentše a “killer.” Heaven also lets Refentše see Sammy’s mind deteriorate from guilt and sadness. Refentše sees from heaven that all of this suffering... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
If Refentše had tried to talk to Lerato after she had sex with Sammy, he would have realized that her reasons for cheating were very similar to the reasons... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
The day that Sammy and Lerato had their affair, Refentše was depressed. He hadn’t eaten the food that Lerato... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
The difference between Refentše and Bohlale’s affair and Sammy and Lerato’s was that Sammy never found out Bohlale cheated on him. Sammy kept going... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Sammy asking for Bohlale should have saved Sammy and Bohlale’s relationship. When Refentše came home from... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...Bohlale called Refentše in tears, telling him that they had to confess and apologize to Sammy. Refentše was not as convinced—he said that Sammy was in a bad state at the... (full context)
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...suicide. This would have prevented his mother’s death and Lerato’s suicide. He might have told Sammy the truth about him and Bohlale. Sammy, meanwhile, deranged from sorrow, also began telling people... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...him—if anything, it made him intrigued. But his devastation about the affair he imagined between Sammy and Lerato was too great to think clearly. And so Refentše left the world through... (full context)
Chapter 3
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...explained that his death was not her fault. Refentše regrets that he did not tell Sammy that he slept with Bohlale, because then Sammy might not have felt so racked with... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...Terror knew that it would break her heart to hear the story about Lerato and Sammy. Lerato knew this, too, and so she took the pills before her mother could find... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...it was her moment of weakness that caused his death.  She says she almost envied Sammy, since he was losing his mind—she thought that this protected him from some of the... (full context)
Chapter 4
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...the shock of his poverty hit him for the first time. Back then, it was Sammy who had comforted Refentše, encouraging Refentše to find enjoyment in other outlets, like school. It... (full context)