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Literature / The Wooing of Beppo Tate

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The Wooing of Beppo Tate is a novel by Jamaican author C. Everard Palmer, first published by Nelson Thornes Ltd in 1972.

Beppo, a young boy coming from a poor background, is informally adopted by "Old Man" Tate, whose level of wealth is enough to give him a comfortable living. However, upon settling into his new home village of Kendal, Beppo is quick to find out that he's also inherited a feud that's been going on between his newly adopted father and the next-door neighbor Mrs. Belmont; said feud extends to the children, as Mrs. Belmont's daughter Daphne immediately dislikes Beppo simply because of his association with the Old Man.

Nonetheless, Beppo finds Daphne intriguing and sets out to learn all he can about her. Unfortunately, this gets him into trouble with another neighbor named Teppy, a schemer who immediately blackmails Beppo into providing victuals for him in exchange for not telling the Old Man of Beppo's interest in his enemy's daughter.


The novel is used as an English Literature school textbook.

Tropes found in this novel:

  • Abusive Parents: Roy Penner indicates that his foster mother is this to him. His birth mother was likely this as well, as in his back-story she intended to abandon him right when Mrs. Jenkins conveniently came along to take him off her hands. Beppo notes that it's very telling that Roy has been with Mrs. Jenkins for some three years and yet he still goes by his birth surname instead of taking the name Jenkins.
  • Alpha Bitch: Daphne.
  • Anti-Hero: Beppo gradually becomes this over the course of the novel.
  • Beware of Vicious Dog: Teppy gives this warning about the Angry Guard Dog he acquires to protect his mango tree.
  • Big Bad: Teppy.
  • Big Eater: Beppo, Teppy, and Roy Penner all qualify.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Daphne.
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  • Blackmail: One of the major plotlines of the story; in exchange for not telling the Old Man about Beppo's interest in Daphne, Teppy demands that Beppo bring him a set number of birds and fish every week. It's later reversed when Beppo and Daphne blackmail Teppy into providing them a dozen mangoes in exchange for not telling the Old Man about the milk Teppy was stealing from the Tates' cow.
  • Blatant Lies: Teppy, Beppo and Roy are all versed in this.
  • Break the Haughty: Beppo aims to do this with George Kirby and Daphne in the initial chapters.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Roy Penner frequently wets his pants.
    Beppo: (narrating) Real weak bladder (Roy) had.
  • The Bully: George Kirby.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Roy Penner. Beppo later develops into one.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Subverted, as following his whipping at Beppo's hands, George Kirby doesn't come around until Character Development kicks in much later in the novel.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Beppo intends to subvert this by breaking up the Old Man's engagement to Mrs. Belmont so he can have a shot a Daphne for himself.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The cause of the feud between the Old Man and Mrs. Belmont? Before he died, Mrs. Belmont's husband was planning to sell the family's horse-drawn buggy (this being the era when cars were a luxury item for the wealthy in Jamaica). The Old Man bought the buggy without knowing that Mrs. Belmont often fought with her husband not to sell it...and in the present day, not even Tate's offer to sell it back to her will placate her.
  • Feuding Families: The feud between the Old Man and Mrs. Belmont trickles down to Beppo and Daphne as early as the second chapter. However, Beppo wants nothing to do with the quarrel, as he feels that it should stay between the adults.
  • Food Porn: Food and mealtimes are given detailed description in the narrative, with Beppo's first breakfast with the Old Man (ackee and codfish, calalloo, breadfruit, and hot coffee) being only the first example. Regarding this particular example, it's justified because Beppo has only just come out of a poor home situation where there wasn't enough food for his siblings and himself to eat.
  • Freudian Excuse: Roy Penner's birth mother intended to abandon him; and since his adoption by Mrs. Jenkins, she has treated him like a slave instead of a son.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Roy Penner has issues with females in general. His Freudian Excuse explains it all.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Beppo and Roy.
  • Hypocrite: Teppy, so very much. He can give blackmail, but he can't take it himself.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Teppy has this reaction after finding out he inadvertently ate an owl.
  • In-Series Nickname: Beppo calls Tate the "Old Man," not because he's old (he's stated to be in his forties), but simply because his hair is gray.
  • Jerkass: Everyone to some degree, but Teppy is the worst of the lot.
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mrs. Belmont is revealed to be this after she catches Beppo and Roy trying to steal her mangoes; she lets Roy leave while keeping Beppo until close to the time for the school's next period...and during that time, she gives him a glass of milk and engages in get-to-know-you talk with him, with both of them promising never to reveal that day's events to Daphne or the Old Man.
  • Kick the Dog: So very, very often, by different characters.
  • Kids Are Cruel
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone in the novel, except Beppo, calls the Old Man by his surname, Tate.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: George Kirby declares that he's going to do this to Beppo during the break-time period. But Beppo literally stomps him instead.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Teppy threatens to lie to the Old Man by saying that Beppo is stealing the Tate cow's milk to give to Daphne when in fact it's Teppy himself who's the thief, Daphne charges from behind the bushes mad as hell. Cue this response from Teppy.
    Beppo: (narrating) When (Teppy) saw her he almost collapsed. His eyes went big and wide and he was very uncomfortable.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Roy Penner believes this, and gets Beppo to join him. Of course, they don't smoke actual cigarettes, just ordinary rolled-up paper, but Daphne is still disgusted when she finds out.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When George and Daphne attempt to use Beppo and Roy's status as informally adopted children ("give-aways") against them in a taunting rhyme, Beppo comes right back at them with a rhyme of his own.
    Beppo: Daphne is George Kirby's girlfriend! Isn't that a funny thing?
    Daphne: WHAT?!
  • Stern Teacher: When Miss Clemens promises to hand out beatings, she will deliver.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Hearing Beppo's name for the first time is enough to cause Teppy, a Big Eater, to stop eating in disbelief. Of course, Beppo observes that Teppy's name isn't all that common either.

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