The most important characters in the excerpt from the short story “I Can Be Someone” by Jayne Bauling are Cebo, Fundi and Khethi. Other characters such as the soccer coach, the teacher, the rich boys etc. also appear in the text, but they are only sketched in this introductory chapter.
Cebo is both the protagonist and the narrator of the short story. From the intro, we find out that he is an orphan and he struggles to keep his home by working for the landlord (p. 138, ll. 1-5).
Cebo is a self-conscious insecure teenager. He is ashamed of his social status and this makes him believe that a girl like Khethi would not talk to him. He does not trust himself enough to approach her: “What if I try talking to her? Or if she wants to talk to me? What if I smell from the rubbish dump yesterday?” (p. 239, ll. 8-10);
Khethi is the only female character in the text, the girl from the private school Cebo likes. She is primarily depicted from Cebo and Fundi’s perspectives.
For Fundi, it is clear that the girl likes Cebo. Yet, the narrator is doubtful about her feelings: ““She’s looking at you, Cebo-dog.” Fundi bumps his shoulder against mine. “That Khethi. Told you she likes you.”” (p. 138, ll. 6-7)
Fundi is Cebo’s friend. In the story, he takes on the role of the joker or the clown. He teases his friend about his attraction towards Khethi: ““I know. I’m Cebo,” Fundi mocks me. “You charmza, like you call that a smooth move? Told you she’s into you, bhuti.”” (p. 241, ll. 17-18)