Trevor Noah


Outer characterization

The main character and narrator of Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime is Trevor Noah, since the events in the book are real stories from the author’s life. He is a mixed-race South African, born from a black mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, and a white father of Swiss-German heritage, Robert: “The doctors took her up to the delivery room, cut open her belly, and reached in and pulled out a half-white, half-black child who violated any number of laws, statutes, and regulations—I was born a crime” (Chapter 2, p. 32). 

Because of apartheid’s racial classification system, Trevor was labeled colored. During apartheid, Trevor’s skin color represented an issue, as intimate relationships between whites and people of color were illegal. Therefore, Trevor’s “colored” label made him an outsider and threatened to expose his parents and send them to jail: 

… once, when I was a toddler, my dad tried to go with us. We were in the park, he was walking a good bit away from us, and I ran after him, screaming, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” People started looking. He panicked and ran away. I thought it was a game and kept chasing him. I couldn’t walk with my mother, either; a light-skinned child with a black woman would raise too many questions. (Chapter 2, p. 33)

Trevor has two half-brothers, Andrew and Isaac, who were born after their mother married Abel, Trevor’s stepfather. 

Physically, Trevor describes himself as an unattractive and awkward teenager:

I was ugly. Puberty was not kind to me. My acne was so bad that people used to ask what was wrong with me, like I’d had an allergic reaction to something. It was the kind of acne that qualifies as a medical condition (…) We’re not talking about pimples, kids. We’re talking pustules—big, pus-filled blackheads and whiteheads. They started on my forehead, spread down the sides of my face, and covered my cheeks and neck and ravaged me everywhere. (Chapter 12, p. 144)

Trevor’s “awkward-looking” (Chapter 12, p. 144) “duck feet” (Chapter 12, p. 144) and “high ass” (Chapter 12, p. 144), as well as his lack of fashion sense, make him uncomfortable throughout his teenage years: 

At the time I had no clue about clothes. My idea of fashion was a brand of clothing called Powerhouse. It was the kind of stuff weight lifters wear down in Miami or out at Venice Beach, baggy track pants with baggy sweatshirts. (Chapter 14, p. 168)

Trevor has a makeover in the last year of high school when he prepares for the senior prom and wants to impress his date, Babiki. He changes his clothes and his hair, gets cornrows, and feels as if “the ugly duckling becomes the swan” (Chapter 14, p. 171).

Inner characterization

Because he is mixed-race, Trevor feels like an outsider

Because of ...

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