"She was unwavering in the face of danger. That always amazed me. It didn't matter that there was a war on our doorstep. She had things to do, places to be…She was never scared. Even when she should have been."

As Noah introduces Patricia in Chapter 1, he emphasizes her fearlessness and the impact that her attitude has on him as a young child. She sets a powerful example for her son through her willingness to challenge the status quo and fight for her beliefs, qualities which Trevor eventually emulates throughout the remainder of the novel. Although this fearlessness does land Patricia in trouble, the positive impact it has on both her life and Trevor’s ultimately renders it an admirable quality.

"Because," she would say, "even if he never leaves the ghetto, he will know that the ghetto is not the world. If that is all I accomplish, I've done enough." 

At the end of Chapter 4, Patricia offers this response to those who question why she takes her son to see and experience whites-only areas during apartheid. Her point of view in this moment highlights her big-picture understanding of the world, one which ultimately sets Trevor up to find success as he navigates life in post-apartheid South Africa. Patricia sees past the limitations of the present and imagines endless possibilities for the future, and by showing Trevor diverse experiences, she passes this perspective on to him.

"She insisted on walking to the village, going where the men hung out, talking to the men as equals. The whole tradition of women bowing to the men, my mom found that absurd. But she didn't refuse to do it. She overdid it. She made a mockery of it."

Early in Chapter 18, Noah describes the way in which Abel’s traditional Tsonga family attempts to impose their culture onto Patricia soon after they marry. The over-the-top way in which she responds to their behavior reflects her stubbornness and independence, both of which make it possible for her to maintain a sense of agency in her relationship. Her refusal to give in to social pressures also highlights just how little she cares about others’ perceptions of her.