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Baba’s Gifts by Jenny Robson and Nomthandazo Zondo

  • Pages 7
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    English Studies 102 1. The third person narrative voice has been used. The narrator is focalising through one particular, which is the main character, MaNdlovu. The readers see everything through her. “MaNdlovu looks about the yard and yes, it is clean. ” 2. MaNdlovu has to tell her husband that they must start using protection (condoms) during sexual intercourse, as Dlamini works in the city, and spends most of his time there, which MaNdlovu suspects that he might be spending it with other city women. And how many nights has she lain there unable to sleep wondering whether Dlamini is sleeping alone in the city or whether some city women. ” MaNdlovu is nervous in speaking these ‘words’ because the couple live in a community that issues that happen in the bedroom are not spoken of. They are not yet exposed to speaking about sex and their sex lives. “Such a terrible shock and shame to see Nurse Margaret there, holding a wooden penis”(Nurse Margaret was demonstrating how to use a condom. She is also nervous because Dlamini and MaNdlovu live in a patriarchal society. The husband is the head of the house and has all authority. She fears that he will become angry and will think that it is MaNdlovu who is seeing other men. “What if it makes him angry. ” ”Is it because she is seeing other men while her husband is gone. ” 3. As the readers we can establish that the story is set in a rural area. This is depicted by Dlamini coming back from the city, which means he is travelling back home, in the rural areas. Ma, what is it my father will bring me from the city? ” It’s also seen when his son is coming back from tending cattle. “Vukile, comes back from checking the cattle. ” There are dusty pathways which suggest that it is a rural area. “So MaNdlovu walks the dusty downhill path. ” It can be assumed that the storyline is based during the 1990’s, because that is when the Aids awareness became bigger. 4. Dlamini is a stereotypical character. He is a common, traditional man that one would find in the rural areas. He is the head of his household.

    He is the breadwinner in his family, he travels out into the city to work and then returns home, after a few months, to provide for his family. “See, MaNdlovu, I have brought chicken pieces for our supper. ” His physical appearance is dominant. ”She forgets when she is alone how tall and strong Dlamini is. ” The impression that we get of him is that he is unconcerned about his wife. He asks about the weather and how his mother doing, he is not concerned how ManNdlovu is doing. ”How have the rains been, my wife? And my mother? Is she well? Dlamini being unconcerned is also shown when MaNdlovu is attempting to address the issue of protection during intercourse, but Dlamini has already made conversation with his friends. It is also shown when he leaves her walking behind him, carrying his box of belongings. “He is still talking as he strides ahead of her. ” Dlamini is a good father to his children. This is depicted when he gives the children the gifts that he has bought for them from the city. It can also be said that the gifts serve as a gendered role, especially because they are in a patriarchal society.

    Ntombi(the girl-child) received a doll- women are steered towards being in the house, looking after their children, whereas Vukile(boy-child) received a football-men are allowed more freedom, their activities take them away from home. Although Dlamini comes across as unconcerned, he cares about his wife, because she also receives a gift. “Dlamini is smiling. He sees her and says, ‘I have a gift for you too’”. 5. MaNdlovu is a typical rural wife. She stays in her house and looks after her children. MaNdlovu does what is expected of her to do and that is to please, respect and obey her husband.

    She is humble and it can be added that she has respect for her elders. MaNdlovu is constantly submissive and passive to her husband, she always listens to him. This is shown when she wants to speak the ‘words ’to him, but Dlamini is more interested in supper, as his parents are coming over. “But Dlamini interrupts her, ’why is the chicken not cooking yet? ’” Her character has to keep up appearances, such as when Dlamini gets off the bus, she has to be joyful even though she is nervous, so that the people in the bus don’t think she is unhappy or anything of that sort. She greets him, smiling shyly to show she is joyful that he has returned. Because the people in the bus are staring down at her, watching. ” Also when Dlamini’s parents come over, she must show that she is a dutiful daughter-in-law. ”MaNdlovu moves about quietly, serving tea and food, anxious to show that she is a capable, dutiful daughter-in-law. ” We can see that MaNdlovu loves and cares for her children. ”MaNdlovu feels her fierce love for her son wash through her and make her brave. The fact that she wants to talk to her husband about protection, means that she is putting her children first, she loves them enough, that she would not want to catch any diseases, die and leave her children. “Please, Dlamini. It is for the sake of the children. It is because there are diseases in the city, diseases that kill. ” 6. The author has intention to show how difficult it is to bring about change in the rural areas. This is caused by the traditional mentality that the people in the community still have, because they are unaware of the issues that happen in the city.

    It is also caused by the patriarchal society that orders women to obey their husbands, even when one does not agree with the instructions ordered by her husband. Dlamini’s reaction reveals that he is typical traditional man. Since he has authority and control over his wife, he knows he has the right to give any order and it will be done, because of the patriarchal society. MaNdlovu, as his wife, is supposed to respect him. She shows obedience because it seen as a virtue by the women in the community. His attitude towards his wife is that she is any other woman, who has to listen to whatever he says.

    He does not see her as his partner in the family, she is below her husband, and they are unequal, he has no time for her, until it is late at night when they have to go to bed. “You throw that nonsense away, MaNdlovu. And then you join me here in bed. ” Dlamini feels that Nurse Margaret does not know anything about marriage, as she is not married. He uses negative connotation when he speaks about her. This is because Dlamini knows that Nurse Margaret is teaching the rural woman the truth about protecting themselves. He says Nurse Margaret is ugly and will never marry. she is an ugly woman who will never be married. This may also mean that because she will never marry, she will not have anyone that is going to be controlling her, making her do things that she doesn’t agree with. When Dlamini asks MaNdlovu why she listens to Nurse Margaret, it’s as though he means that MaNdlovu should not listen to her especially because she is a woman, the only person MaNdlovu should be listening to, is him because he has authority and therefore should be listened to. “Why do you listen to Nurse Margaret? ” MaNdlovu’s ending is bleak.

    Her reaction is no different to her usual reactions when her husband has instructed something. She does not have the authority to change or question anything. Her life is the still the same, even after she has spoken the ‘words’. She has to do what is expected of her and that is to please her husband. The last paragraph suggests that MaNdlovu cannot make decisions for herself, she will always have her husband to control her. It also shows that she is a minor in her marriage, and she cannot contribute any ideas or thoughts. “And even though he is laughing, MaNdlovu knows she must do what he instructs. The significance of the last two sentences highlight how MaNdlovu is in the dark, there is a play on words, she is in the dark literally, because the lights are off, yet she is in the dark figuratively, because she is not fully aware of HIV/Aids and will do as her husband says as she is not well informed. The darkness also symbolises that without her package of protection (condom), she is doomed. The repetition of the ‘sense of the city’ emphasises that he is having some sort of sexual promiscuity in the city with another woman- he is cheating.

    It emphasises that even though he has had a bath, it doesn’t mean that he is cleansed from the diseases in the city, he still is infected and is about to infect his own wife, because of his ignorance. The story ends in despair for the reader, as we know that MaNdlovu has entered into a difficult situation. The future of the women like MaNdlovu and her family has been negatively affected. They are not as fortunate as the people in the city, they won’t have the full knowledge of HIV/Aids. Many of them will flourish because of this virus, many of their children will become orphans, or will have contracted the virus and will die too.

    This is due to many factors, here are two examples listed below: -They are uneducated and those who are educated , move from the rural areas to urbanised areas and leave the rest of the people still unaware. -The women and their families are dependant on their husbands, as they are commonly the breadwinners in their families, which then means the women must obey their husbands, and do as they say. It is going to be very difficult to take a step forward and attempt to empower them. Many of the women are still stuck in the old traditional ways and concepts and will therefore have to be made aware and taught all the dangers of the deadly virus.

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    Baba’s Gifts by Jenny Robson and Nomthandazo Zondo. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from

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