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The Butcher Boys.

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University of Cape Town Faculty of Humanities Essay cover page THE BUTCHER BOYS By Jane Alexander (1959) Name: Stuart Duncan Student No: DNCSTU001 Course: Text in Context Course Code: SSL101F Tutor: Robert McDonald Tutorial code: 1A(insert) Due date: 19th March 2004 1. I know that plagiarism is wrong. Plagiarism is to use another author's work and to pretend that it is one's own. 2. I have used the author-date convention for citation and referencing. Each significant contribution to, and quotation in, this essay from the work, or works, of other people has been acknowledged through citation and reference 3. This essay is my own work. 4. I have not allowed, and will not allow, anyone to copy my work with the intention of passing it off as his or her own work. 5. I have done the word processing and formatting of this assignment myself. I understand that the correct formatting is part of the mark for this assignment and that it is therefore wrong for another person to do it for me. Signature Date THE BUTCHER BOYS On a small wooden bench, in a quiet room of the Cape Town art gallery, sit three statues better suited to the dark catacombs of a Stephen King novel. Jane Alexander's Butcher Boys are the most frightening pieces of art I have ever seen. The three sit innocently on a bench amongst fine English portraits lining the walls, their pitch-black, glassy eyes staring sightlessly back at the many accusing faces. ...read more.


A good reading of this text produces, amongst others, the question of: "Why three? Why are they positioned as a trio, and not as a duo or as a foursome?" The number three has numerous connotations and references throughout history. There were three prime evils: Terror, Destruction and Hatred. This point becomes very interesting if you take into account some of the masterminds of Apartheid. They may be a warped adaptation of the nursery rhyme; "Three Blind Mice". As the story goes, the mice lose their tails to the farmer's wife and in an unfortunate twist of fate become tail-less as well as blind. Similarly, the statues have lost their speech (their mouths are sealed), their ears (they have none) and their sight and so could be interpreted as "The Three Disfigured Men". One may wonder what it is they had cut off, considering their lack of genitalia. Another impression is that they may be a contrast to The Three Monkeys 2 (See no evil; Hear no evil; Speak no evil). The Figures are in fact deformed versions of the monkeys. While they use their hands to cover their relevant senses, The Statues are mutilated and have had each sense removed from them. This puts them in a position of helplessness, which is contrasted by the positions of autocratic dominance that the Apartheid leaders, which they symbolize, held. While the Monkeys protect themselves from evil, it is ironic that The Butcher Boys embody evil and therefore have no need hide their senses. ...read more.


The Father The Son and The Holy Spirit. When related to the concepts of demon horns and The Devil, we are aware of a deep feeling of uneasiness, as our morals and our sense of right and wrong are polluted, as they were in the pre1990 years. The colours and markings on The Statues closely resemble those of cadavers. The exposed spines along the backs of The Statues accentuate the post-mortem look, as do the cut-lines along their breastbones. It is easily imagined that these creatures were in the process of coronary examination, when they were stolen, cast and put on display. The torn open look makes it seem as though the apathy of Apartheid has been frozen and sculpted into a suitable "human" form. This gives a very real feeling to The Piece. Through her definite choices in texture, positioning, context, intertextual referencing, etc. Jane Alexander has succeeded in giving The Butcher Boys a distinct intended meaning. Altering of a single element would result in the changing of the entire meaning. All these elements: texture, arrangement, symbolism, context, etc. have an ability to shape and modify our readings of the text. Changes to any one of these produces a completely different interpretation of the same text. In this way we can create a multitude of different texts using the same source, a form of Polytext, if you will. This ability to view texts in different ways (so creating these "polytexts") is essential to the modern progression of person-kind, without which we would have a world that is very primitive and uninteresting. ...read more.

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