HIV In Jonny Steinberg's Three-Letter Plague

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HIV in Jonny Steinberg’s Three-Letter Plague
In his novel “The three-letter plague”, Jonny Steinberg gives us an account of what it is like to live with HIV in a society where that phenomenon is frowned upon. Rather, we should say that he gives us an account of what it is like to live among people who suffer from HIV and the fear of being infected by the virus is highly present. During his stay in the village of Ithanga, he spends most of his time with Sizwe, a man whose wife who has been tested negative and is pregnant. Sizwe owns a spaza shop and as the time has gone by, he has become very successful in his village, causing many other villagers to despise and envy him. The latter is terrified at the idea that he needs to get tested for HIV. We learn about the reasons why, just like Sizwe, many other people refuse to get tested. By diving into Jonny Steinberg’s
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Indeed, the one who inspired the novel is named Sizwe. We meet him and as the narration develops, the more we learn about him, the more a bond is enforced in terms of the reader-character relationship. We are allowed into his life, his mind, his fears and his deepest sorrows. Sizwe walks us through the stigma people with HIV face. As the trust is enforced between the narrator and the 29 years old man, us, as readers, can only appreciate the friendship which is being formed. The process of getting Sizwe to open up is a long and delicate one. “At first he was somewhat stiff; the previous day’s levity appeared to have abandoned him. Sometimes we spoke, sometimes there was silence. At some point I noticed a subtle change in his gait and his footsteps. He was beginning to relax. (13)”. We can feel it. The narrator does not want to overwhelm him, for he is the subject of his study. Forcing him to say too much might scare him away and might as well cause him to shut down on what he wants to
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