• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

There is no room for individual identity in South African literature Discuss.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'There is no room for individual identity in South African literature' Discuss. Literature has often been used as tool to capture a sense of the self in society. The issue has clearly had pertinence in South Africa since the introduction of apartheid policies. Apartheid was the system of legal racial segregation imposed by the National Party government of South Africa between 1948 and 19931. Under apartheid whites were given a political-racial identity which was synonymous with superiority. The 'coloured' characters in Athol Fugard's play 'Boesman and Lena' were left helpless by the racism, as Lena's song illustrates when she sings about how 'Boesman' is not merely a name, it is also a label and an identification of one's culture. The sense of individuality appears to have been superseded by the need to conform in a malicious, segregated society. The thought of being exposed to such a hostile land is discussed in poems such as 'Landscape of Violence', where Currey uses a simile to liken the politics of South Africa at the time to 'hailstorms', showing just how crippling the results of prejudice can be. Indeed, those 'caught outside' the comfortable life of the elite are depicted as having only a horse to shelter them from the hail. Racial prejudices are by far the most obvious restriction on personal identity; the characters I have studied are defined first and foremost by the colour of their skin. Though Afrikanerdom saw itself as culturally distinct from the English-speaking South Africans, both groups exercised apartheid policies to persecute black or coloured Africans, forcing them into subservience. The fact that Fugard's 'Boesman and Lena' begins with 'A coloured man...' suggests that everything from that moment forward has been as result of his skin colour. Fugard goes further to show that Lena is highly disadvantaged as a result of being coloured; her dreams of reinventing herself are met by Boesman's 'What do you think you are? ...read more.

Middle

'A life of hardship and dissipation' has arguably stripped Lena of genuinely positive emotion and when later talking to Outa she laments 'once you've put your life on your head and walked you never get light again'. There are a number of parallels between Lena and the 'mother' depicted in the final stanza of 'An Abandoned Bundle'. Both are forced to continue living in a world which does not recognise the terrible tragedies of their past; the image of the 'abandoned bundle's' mother 'melting into the rays of the rising sun' seemed to be presented through the eyes of the child, who would have been looking up at its mother's face as she drew away. However, 'melt' may also suggest her fading away again into a crowd, an 'innocent' face concealing her terrible secret. Comparably, Lena is not allowed to remember her lost child properly, due to Boesman's inability to discuss it with her on a personal level. Parallels may also be drawn against Sally (from Casey Motsisi's 'The Efficacy of Prayer') who, like Lena, dreams of breaking free from the restrictions placed on her by society. Her dream to 'be just like Dan the Drunk' comes true with the irony that the best Sally could become was something Dan the Drunk already was - and whilst he was underachieving for a white man, this was the best a black girl may hope for. Athol Fugard is quoted as saying of 'Boesman and Lena', 'It's an examination of a relationship between a man and a woman in which the man is a bully. . . . I think my wife has been on the receiving end of a lot of that sort of greed and selfishness.8' Yet despite the guilt the author carries abuse is almost commonplace in South Africa. One in every three women in South Africa is in an abusive relationship, a woman is killed by her partner every six days and there is a rape every 35 seconds9. ...read more.

Conclusion

The way Turner is 'banned; neither to be published/ nor quoted in any form' and 'forbidden to teach', represents a persistent attempt by the state to prevent his influence on others. While the line 'a gunman called you to the door' shows the juxtaposition of politics and a domestic setting, the state imposing its views on the lives of others, even in the face of death, Turner is the more powerful figure. Even if, in reality, Turner did not choose the circumstances of his death, he did choose to resist oppression, in spite of knowing the risks. Similarly Dhlomo's belligerent harangue 'Because I'm Black' aggressively explains that 'diversity means not disunion', and speaks out against those who 'harbour childish [delusions]'. As individuals we find ourselves caught up in greater events, and must choose whether to look on passively, and 'thrust (our cold hands)...into/ our ultimately private pockets', or to stand up for what we believe in. As a country it is important to rely upon each other, rather than the state, for validation. Yet in a country with as rich and polarised a political history as South Africa, its literature find will it difficult to survive without ever really avoid focussing on the social contexts which have played such an integral part in the shaping of the country it is today. 3247 words (inc quotes) 1 Stanford University. The History of Apartheid in South Africa. 2 South African History Online. Suppression of Communism Act. 3 Christopher Heywood. A History of South African Literature. 4 Rebecca Davis. Unstable Ironies: Narrative Instability in Herman Charles Bosman's "Oom Schalk Lourens" Series. 5 Dennis Walder. Athol Fugard. 6 Dr. Steinwand. Fugard. The censorship of Theater in South Africa. 7 Wertheim, A. The Dramatic Art of Athol Fugard: From South Africa to the World. 8 Dennis Walder. Introduction to 'Port Elizabeth Plays' 9 Africa Focus. Gender Equality. 10 Craig W. McLuckie. Power, self, and other: the absurd in 'Boesman and Lena' 11 Dennis Walder. Athol Fugard. 12 Stanley Kauffmann. Review of Boesman & Lena. ?? ?? ?? ?? Natalie Clifton 13WA ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Criticism & Comparison essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    June 26th, 2001. Date accessed: July 9th, 2008. <http://inkpot.com/books/english.html> * O'Dea, Gregory. "Nationality and Textuality in Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient." May 9th, 2006. Date accessed: July 9th, 2008. <http://www.acponline.org/about_acp/chapters/tn/english.pdf> * Ondaatje, Michael (1992). The English Patient. Bloomsbury (1994). Bloomsbury Publishing Plc: London. * Orlowski, Victoria. "Metafiction" (1996).

  2. Existentialism seen in The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz and The Stranger ...

    Dependence upon God... is a primary step" (Hitti 135). Throughout the course of the novel, Said rejected God, which made it rather ironic that when he was in desperate need of shelter with no where to go but to the Sheikh, he was forced to seek shelter in the house of God, the only place he was welcomed.

  1. Explore the presentation of the individual against society in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's ...

    (and his inherited identity as 'Chief'), Alex cannot escape his troubles until he conquers his oppressors through making an active choice to die instead of simply accepting and enduring. This reclamation of freedom is rewarding for Alex and society: he eventually matures, becomes bored with violence and develops a paternal instinct.

  2. Short stories. I have chosen to discuss Can-can by Arturo Vivante and The ...

    The husband doesn?t think his wife knows about his affair but we question that she might when she does this dance. ?Her eyes had mockery in them, and she laughed? (Vivante 1988:6). Is the wife showing her husband what he is missing?

  1. Totalitarianism and Censorship in 1984 and Fahrenheit 451

    The popularity of these books does rule out the possibility of such a society coming into existence in the future, however. The state of people is not about to change, and their ignorance will continue regardless of the harshness of the wake up calls issued.

  2. Twentieth century literature often portrays the relationship between men and women as deeply problematic. ...

    As the play progresses, Pinter delves more deeply into the theme of emasculation. The inversion of repressive gender roles (or, in non-feminist accounts, of repressive social roles) is captured particularly well in Max?s words: ?I gave birth to three grown men?.

  1. How do the writers present sexuality and gender in Tales Of Ovid, Streetcar Named ...

    George?s demise is with his trouser round his ankles, a less than dignified ?epileptic penguin[39]?, as the World Cup final ?carries on regardless?[40] in another typically callous death of Behind The Scenes. This dominance leads to a trapping sexual dependence of women upon men, symbolically reflected by Williams in the eponymous streetcar, ?bound for Desire, and then for the Cemeteries?[41].

  2. Compare the ways Brian Friel presents ideas about divided identity in Making History with ...

    Frayn draws a parallel between Keith?s bedroom and his father?s garage; Keith?s toys, like Mr Hayward?s car, are in perfect condition and are very rarely played with. We see that Hugh?s habit of switching comes from his background; fostered by Irish parents when young, he then lived with an upper-class

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work