Racism And Violence In John Mathaban's Kaffir Boy

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The book Kaffir Boy is the stunning and at times chilling recreation of a black child’s life in Apartheid, South Africa. The time period was one that was filled with heartbreaking racism and violence against those who were not white. The novel takes the reader through the early childhood and teenage years of Johannes Mathabane. Johannes, from his early toddler years to his teenage life, lived under the constant threat of raids and unwarranted violence from the South African police over “papers.” Johannes recounts many chilling encounters with the police, and many times he describes with almost explicit specificity how they made him and his family stand in feces and encounter other horrible punishments for not having the necessary paperwork. However, things start to change for him when he starts school in a nearby primary school. Though originally he hates the concept of going to school, for fear of being influenced by the “white man,” eventually his mother convinces him to go, for it is the only path to success later in life. This introduces the first major source of conflict in this…show more content…
The quote “Pangs of hunger melted my resentment of my father away, and now that he was gone I longed night and day for his return” represents the daily suffering that Johannes had to endure daily in his childhood, with meals being a prized scarcity everyday (80). The suffering was also represented in the author’s description of how his father and his mother were beaten badly by the policemen of South Africa. Hate is also another key theme of this novel, with the quote “He tore me away from my mother and lashed me...She tried to intervene, but my father shoved her aside and promised her the same” showing how even a person he trusted dearly, his father, resorted to showing cruel acts of hate to his family (100). These two themes were the overarching emphasis on the childhood life of Mark
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