Small Island Characters

Break down of all the major events for the main characters.

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Hortense Joseph

  • Has high expectations of England and Gilbert: "Just this? This is where you are living?".
  • Wary of Queenie and her generosity.
  • Confused as to her treatment in England: "Still this taxi driver did not understand me".
  • Attempts to raise her standing in the class order by using proper pronunciation. Still no one understands her.
  • Lives with Michael Roberts and her uncle, Philip Roberts. Develops feelings for Michael.
  • Teacher-training college in Kingston. Becomes best friends with Celia Langely.
  • Give Gilbert Joseph money for passage to England. Marries him so that she can follow him there.
  • Told she cannot teach in England.
  • 'Adopts' Queenie's baby boy, Michael and leaves with Gilbert.
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Queenie Bligh

  • Independent woman.
  • Marries Bernard for convenience, so that she doesn't have to go back to work on family farm.
  • Doesn't agree with discrimination after incident when younger. Met "black man... carved from melting chocolate" and shook hands with man.
  • Cautious of Hortense when she knocks on her door.
  • Known Gilbert since the beginning of the war.
  • Being escorted to cinema by Gilbert when Arthur (father-in-law) is shot. Doesn't agree with discrimination inside cinema.
  • Gives Gilbert a place to live after the war.
  • Lived with Auntie Dorothy to become a 'lady'. Courted by Bernard. Dorothy dies. Marries Bernard.
  • Takes in three lodgers during war, including Michael Roberts. Has affair with Michael.
  • Gives birth to black baby (Michael's). Gives him to Hortense and Gilbert.
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Gilbert Joseph

  • Genuine character. Not affraid of discrimination, just what it will do to those he loves.
  • Develops feelings for Hortense, but doesn't want to tell her.
  • Takes money from Hortense for passage to England in exchange for marriage and place to live.
  • Joins British Royal Air Force. Faces discrimination from American officers.
  • Sent to US base. faces extreme discrimination. Picks-up two American black GI's but faces no discrimination, even though they are American.
  • Meets Queenie and Arthur Bligh. Cinema Incident and fight on the street. Blames himself for Arthur's death.
  • Returns to Queenie after war for place to live.
  • 'Adopts' baby Michael and leaves with Hortense.
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Bernard Bligh

  • A bit slow, never really done anything exciting with his life. Fairly racist.
  • Feelings for Queenie have dwindled since they got married.
  • Volunteers for RAF and is assigned to India.
  • Given Position as an Erk (ground crew) and becomes friends with Maxi. 
  • War ends and the Japanese surrender as well.  
  • Bernard deserts his post and loses weapon when fire breaks out in his basha after a 'meeting'. Maxi dies.
  • Sent to jail for deserting post and losing rifle.
  • Returns to England and lives in Brighton (for Maxi) for two years before returning to Queenie.
  • Unhapppy with Queenie that she has Black lodgers and that she failed to tell him of Arthur's death.
  • Doens't get on with Gilbert, especially when Queenie has black baby. Thinks they had an affair. Reluctantly agrees with Queenie's decision to Give up baby.
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