An overview of some of the characters in the book.
C. Everard Palmer skillfully connects a number of character types to weave the thrilling short story A Cow Called Boy. A number of characters are used to support the roles played by the major characters, however the story essentially centers on the major characters. For many analysts, the characters that stand out as major characters are Josh Mahon, Boy and Mr. Watson.
Josh is a typical rural Jamaican male student. Truancy is not foreign to him and it actually comes to his mind on the first morning of school when he finds himself in a dilemma. The main reason he decides to continue the journey to school is because it is the first day of a new school term. Josh is creative. He finds an ingenuous way to get himself out of a predicament at the beginning of the story. His pet calf insists on following him to school and he knows deep within himself that this is not a feasible idea. His decision to take the animal with him and use him as his summer project (which he did not do), is undoubtedly a shrewd one.
Josh is really the heroic character in the story. He is brave enough to stand up for himself and his pet in the face of punishment and disapproval from the adults in his community such as his mother, his principal and Mr. Watson. He cunningly organizes the protests and slowly pushes Mr. Watson into a corner where he has no option but to sell the animal back to him. When Mr. Watson decides to use witholding credit as a ploy to dismantle the protest action, Josh hits back by encouraging his classmates to patronize a competing shopkeeper.
Boy is a bulkin (a young male bull). He is Josh’s pet. He is friendly and loyal. When Josh is being caned inside the principal’s office after the upheaval caused by his pet, Boy becomes very agitated an moos loudly outside the classroom. This shows that he is disturbed and angry at the punishment being meted out to his friend.
Mr. Ben Watson is the villain in the story. He is Josh’s nemesis. He displays greed, cruelty and determination, three key ingredients to being evil. He purchases Josh’s pet by taking advantage of a ’sweet deal’ . Bertha Mahon desperately wants to get rid of the animal because it had led to Josh being in trouble at school. Mr. Watson takes advantage of this situation by bargaining for a very low price of forty shillings for the animal.