When we first meet Boon we don’t necessarily realize that he is going to become such a central role – and as Jean Tay has said, the central protagonist she intended. At first, he is simply the property agent who doesn’t seem to have quite found his role (‘Oi! Hello!.....Cemeteries?’). However, we quickly see him as Boon the son, and realize that this is both a central character and one with two very different sides to him.

Boon the agent
Boon the son
Beginning to develop ‘agent speak’
Initially very confident in A1, S1 – ‘bring cheque’, ‘designer décor’, ‘But Never West’
Speaks very colloquially, usually in Singlish
‘Throw away these hideous statues. Jing pai kua, leh’. Shows closeness of the two characters.
Actually rather inexperienced
Falters at the euphemisms – ‘Porn shops? Gambling dens?’. Obviously is rather inexperienced – ‘Oi, oi, oi…..How long have you been selling property?’ – as shown by his reluctance and the other agents’ questioning of him.
Comes across as a small boy fighting with his mother when they speak
In Act One, Scene Two we see him immediately change from being an agent into a small boy again. His mother scolds him and criticizes what he is doing, making him defensive.
Aspires to a materialistic lifestyle ‘(enviously) Nice…..’ when told about his colleague’s new flat. Is also very excited when he is given the possibility to stay in the showflat after his argument with his mother.
Wants the best for his mother – is a filial son.
Although initially we think his motivation is a fancy condo like his fellow agents, we realize that deep down he is a very filial son who wants to give his mother the life his father didn’t give her (‘Half the time she’s on her knees, trying to scrub the stain of him from the floor’).
Is possibly not a very good agent
‘Don’t remind me…I lost so much money on that one. Never even got to collect my keys.’ – when speaking about one of his investments in River Valley. Doesn’t know about en bloc until Act One, Scene 4 (‘En bloc?’) which then becomes the solution to his problems and then joins the committee in his mother’s apartment to try and convince people to go en bloc.
Gets very frustrated with his mother’s reluctance to do anything
His mother blocks him at every turn, (‘sea sick’), and although he initially is very patient with her, he constantly refers to her as ‘xiao zha boh’ (crazy woman). He finally loses his patience with her in A1, S19 and leaves, but his filial and guilty nature brings him home again, to rescue her.
Shares very similar qualities to his father when he is in his ‘role’ as an agent
Perhaps why his mother objects so strongly to his role as this and also when he is speaking like an agent (‘Classy your head’)
Is haunted by the memory of what happened when he was a boy, and the fact he will become his father.
All the way through the play he is trying to get away from the memory of his father (‘buried like Kryptonite in the walls’) and is determined to not become his father (‘I am not like you. I won’t be like you’), although he does start to show some similar qualities. The crucial difference is that he delivers what he promises by the end of the play.

Not very sentimental
Unlike his mother, Boon initially does not see the point in holding on to things (‘Broken, just throw away lah’), but gradually learns that the past is important and that it should be preserved.

Reluctant to remember the past because of all the painful memories it has.
He initially claims he doesn’t remember dressing up as superman, which we see very quickly that he does, and it is part of a wider determination to forget his past and all the painful memories it brings up.


Boon’s goal
- provide a better life for his mother and himself.
- Forget his past –the ‘residue’

Boon’s actions
- keeps pestering his mother to move – offers her incentives etc
- In A1, S19, he tries leaving her and getting on with his life
- At the end of the play, he realizes that he must get rid of the tree in order to successfully get on with his life, so he chops it down.
- He is an ACTIVE character – he tries to do things to achieve his goal

Boon’s obstacles
- his mother, who doesn’t want to move
- memories of his past – in A2, S2 he is ‘haunted’ by his father when he leaves
- he is a filial son – which means he feels guilty about leaving his mother and goes back.