Born a Crime by Trevor Noah introduces a large number of characters. The main character is Trevor Noah, who presents events from his childhood, teenage years, and youth in South Africa. The narrative, which takes the form of a memoir, is told in the first person by Trevor. This way, readers are given a lot of insight into Trevor’s feelings and get to understand his experiences as a mixed-race child born during apartheid.
Another important character is Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, Trevor’s mother. Trevor dedicates the book to her and presents her as an authority figure whose influence has shaped his life. She is portrayed as a strong woman whose goal is to offer Trevor the opportunity to evolve. Robert, Trevor’s father, is another important character in the book. Robert’s relationship with Trevor’s mother was illegal during apartheid, so he became a discrete presence in his son’s life. Abel, Trevor’s stepfather, is a negative presence in Trevor’s life. He is portrayed as an abusive alcoholic, who traumatizes Trevor and his family. Trevor’s relationship with his mother, father, and stepfather evolves in time and teaches him important life lessons.
Other significant characters include Trevor’s stepbrothers, Andrew and Isaac. While Andrew briefly appears in the memoir, Isaac is only mentioned towards the end, when he provides missing information after Abel shoots his mother. Other characters worth mentioning are Frances Noah – Trevor’s strong grandmother, and Temperance Noah – his bipolar grandfather. Koko, Trevor’s blind great-grandmother, appears in a humorous episode where she assumes Trevor is an evil spirit that haunts the house.
Some of Trevor’s friends are also worth mentioning. For example, Bongani is one of Trevor’s best friends and the one who introduces him to life in Alexandra, the poor township outside Johannesburg. Tom, who is Trevor’s partner in his CD business, introduces him to Babiki, who teaches Trevor a lesson about the importance of communication. Lastly, Trevor’s dancer friend Hitler appears in a few episodes that illustrate prejudice against black people post-apartheid.