Compare and Contrast Characters and Presentation of Fiela Komoetie and Barta Van Rooyen

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Compare and Contrast Characters and Presentation of

Fiela Komoetie and Barta Van Rooyen.

        Although Dalene Matthee’s novel is set up at the turn of the twentieth century in a predominantly male South Africa, two of the most notable female characters of the novel stand out from amongst the others due to their impact on the development of the central events. I am today going to concentrate on the representation of Fiela Komoetie and Barta Van Rooyen, who appear to exist in different worlds with their own roles and status in the respective families. These two female figures play an eminent role in the life of the main protagonist of the novel, Benjamin Komoetie and undoubtedly affect the utter existence of the two families.

        The Komoetie family, based in the dry climate of the Wolwekraal represent the poor class of the South African society which is predominantly black. The family belongs to those who have to work hard for their money on the arid land that they inhabit. In the Komoetie family, Fiela Apoools, which is her maiden name, acts as the head of the family taking control over the daily routines that the family goes through. Although she is the female figure in the family, she clearly possesses more authority over her male counterpart, Selling, who is no able to do hard work due to his physical ailments.

Fiela often uses her authority to force other members of the family to work, but the pressure that she puts on them does not form fear or dislike, but instead earns her respect in the family. She understands that for the survival of the family in the tough conditions, someone must take charge and lead the others. She knows that the work must be done to bring some money into the family, and she often requires that both the children and her husband complete the work. An example of this is when she asks Selling, if he has finished the whip that he was working on, and insists that it must be completed.

        One of the basic things that motivate Fiela to do work from day to day, is her love for her family. Although she is critical of the other members sometimes, she wholeheartedly loves them. This can be seen in her fundamental will to bring more money into the family, not because of selfish reasons, but to improve the quality of life in the family in whole. An example to this is the fact that Fiela constantly makes plans about the future, as she wants to buy Laaghans land for Benjamin and also daily takes care of her ostriches hoping they would bring substantial amount of money into the family.  

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        Her love for her family is also reflected in her relationship with Selling, as she risks her life to pay a visit to Selling while he is imprisoned. Despite her mothers warnings, she takes long walks to the other side of the mountain to see her bellowed, and can not bare to live without him as I quote : “it was as if the rope was put around Fiela’s head and was getting tighter with everyday”. This shows that Fiela is not only very considerate and loving person, but above all a loving wife and a loving mother


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