The most important characters in Jomo Kenyatta’s story “The Gentlemen of the Jungle” are the man, as the protagonist, and the elephant, as the antagonist. The other animals also play some role in the story, as they all end up supporting the elephant in its unjust conflict with the man. 

The man is the protagonist, as the story focuses on his conflict with the animals of the jungle, and the narrator often takes on his perspective. He seems to be a representation of a typical African man living in the African colonies at the time of the British Empire. The man’s outer characterization is brief. His inner characterization is constructed through the narrator’s and the other characters’ perspectives, and through his language and actions.

The elephant is the antagonist in the short story, as he is in conflict with the man, the protagonist. His actions set the story in motion. He is mostly characterized through his manipulative behaviour, as he tricks the man into allowing him inside his hut, lies to the Commission and bribes its members. He is supposed to represent the corrupt British coloniser. Note that the other animals play a similar role once they join the conflict on the elephant's side.

You can find their characterisations in the following pages.