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Kaffir Boy – Alienation

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    (A) Alienation Alienation has a big role throughout the Kaffir boy. It is defined as emotional isolation or dissociation from others. Johannes, along with all the young children who battle apartheid each and every day are constantly being put down and are isolated from the rest of the people in south Africa. They are even on some level totally alienated from their parents as well. Johannes had been living proof that it is in fact extremely hard to rise above the life style that has been made for these people.

    His mother had taken it on as her role to provide for her family many times, due to either his father being in prison or just being to arrogant to realize what was best for his family. On page 77 it tells us how Johannes’ mother went and took the children along with herself to go get baptized, against her husbands wishes. She fought for jobs and did everything she could to provide for her family, despite being all alone. (B) Relationships Throughout the book Johannes mainly interacts with his family.

    His parents whom have tried time and time again to provide for their kids as best as possible despite being poverty stricken during apartheid in South Africa. Relationships? The apartheid affected every aspect of Mark’s life, including his relationship with his family. It completely destructed them as well as every other black family. The rules of the apartheid that determined where people lived meant that most black families did not live together. Wives and children lived on the reserves, while the men lived in the cities. Mark’s family all lives together through it all.

    This is due to his mother’s hard work. Even though she is working as hard as she is, her children do not see it because it is covered up by the projection of his father’s anger and lack of food. All the children see is the struggle, rather than the amount of hard work their mother is putting in, in order to keep them together and alive. As much as they try, neither his mother nor his father and provide for the family. Thus, creating relationships of only misfortune. Despite their back breaking labor, men in the cities were often unable to provide sufficiently for their families back on the reserves.

    Even families that were together, like Mark’s, were often together illegally. The apartheid system created such rage that it created violence. Mark’s father is a prime example. Worked to the bone, unable to even properly feed or clothe his family, and living under constant threat of arrest, Papa becomes unbearably mean. Yet Mark’s family does manage to stay together. All of these aspects create the relationships between the government and the black people as well as the relationships between the people of Mark’s family. The government and the lack’s people’s relationship revolves around fear.

    It is charged by the blacks being afraid of the whites. Without this kind of relationships the apartheid will not be as powerful. It takes the people to create power for the government. The relationship between the government and the people affect the relationship in each home of the people. Mark’s at home relationship with his family is caused by the way the government affects his parents. Because they cannot provide for their family in the way that they need to, it turns them into a type of person that is hard to connect with. … (C)?Fear Fear is the first emotion Mark remembers when reminiscing of his past in Alexandra.

    Specifically, his fears of the police, white people, and starving. In a child’s life there is always a lot of fear, but what Mark has suffered through in South Africa is a great amount more than the average child. Living to the next day is always questionable in his life. Day by day his fear grows because of his hardships that is put upon him by the apartheid. Every fear he experiences is due to the apartheid and how it forces a lifestyle that revolves around fear. One specific reason for Mark and his family’s terror and pain is caused by the police’s raids on his neighborhood, almost nightly.

    During these raids, the police violently remove blacks whose passes are not in order. During one incident when the Peri-Urbans barged into Marks house they created an unless amount of fear. This is just one of the many occasions when those who are above the black people of South Africa abuse them just because they can. Due to this, his parents were constantly being arrested and taken away from him and his siblings. They would be forced to fend for themselves. This, for young children, or anyone, can be extremely frightening. The white people of South Africa frighten Mark and his family because they seem to be for much above them.

    There is such a difference in the amount of power that the white people have rather than the black people, that even the thought of them is terrorizing. Knowing that they can take anything they want from you at any given time has to be the scariest thing. The white people of South Africa rule everything. They call the shots on the government, housing, and job opportunities for the blacks of South Africa. They call the shots on literally everything and if you do not play by their rules they will take everything away from you.

    The role that the white people in South Africa play in Mark in is family’s life is purely to enforce fear in their daily lives. Besides the fear of the police and white people, there is also the constant fear of starving to death. Mark faces a constant battle of whether or not he will dissolve from lack of food. This food issue scares Mark because it puts the idea in his head that his future will not go anywhere. It blinds him from the possibilities of what his future might hold. His fear of starvation ties in with the apartheid.

    Because the government creates numerous obstacles for the black people to overcome, it makes it so surviving in South Africa almost impossible. The apartheid requires every adult to have a job, if they do not then they will be arrested, yet they make it as difficult as possible for one to keep one in order. Thus making it impossible for his parents to get jobs so they can put food on the table for Mark and his siblings. .. (D) Apartheid Mark’s family, like the black families surrounding them, suffers constantly. They routinely experience extreme hunger, malnutrition, and disease. But it isn’t just the hunger and starvation that afflict them.

    Life under apartheid is designed to make people suffer in other ways: they are dominated by feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and inferiority. We see how suffering affects individuals when Mark decides to leave the gangster life behind and focus on school. His mother tells him that all young black men growing up in the ghettoes have to make the important choice to be a tsotsi (a gangster) or not to be a tsotsi. Mark has chosen a non-violent path, but we learn that his choice is rare. Other young people chose to respond to their suffering by boycotting the schools, or joining the resistance.

    Mark’s father responds to his suffering by oppressing his family. On the one hand, constant suffering was a strategy on the part of apartheid officials to keep Africans docile and needy, but it ultimately backfired. The systematic oppression that blacks experience under apartheid South Africa causes many of them to hate all whites. Mark starts out from this position as well, frustrated with the way he’s treated. But his anger and hate dissipate as he meets whites who treat him as a friend and an equal. Ultimately, Mark is able to leave the destructive emotion behind him. His family and friends are not always so lucky.

    The hatred, rage, and anger that many blacks feel fuels the violence that dominates township life. Race was the most important aspect of individual identity in apartheid South Africa. It determined where you lived, who you married, and what kinds of education, job, and housing was available to you. Whites were the privileged elite, with access to the best education, lucrative jobs, and the ability to employ black servants at non-living wages. On the other hand, blacks were systematically oppressed at every turn; their lives were controlled by an unsympathetic government that saw them as inferior beings.

    The majority of social, legal, educational, political, and religious organizations worked to keep the apartheid system in place and to prevent blacks from escaping poverty and ignorance and gaining a position of equality with whites. Under apartheid, whites banded together to keep blacks oppressed, while blacks were splintered by their ethnic identities and indigenous languages, a practice that government officials exploited and encouraged. It wasn’t until the Soweto school riots in 1976, which Mark describes in detail, when blacks began to unite on a wide scale and fight against their common oppressor. We learn after the fact that this was never a unified movement, as the police quickly moved in to incite enmity between various groups and tribes. ) We do see how Mark suffers ostracism after he decides to strike out on his own and play tennis after black tennis players turned against him. Mark decided that he needed to look out for his best interests rather than the collective interests of black athletes. This was a decision that made many fellow black athletes angry. … (E) Hunger Regarding hunger during Mark’s childhood, he expresses it to be on the verge of starvation.

    This is how Mark describes it as a devouring beast that turned every emotion into hatred. “At times it was the silent destroyer, creeping in unseen, unrecognized, except when, like a powerful time bomb, it would explode inside my guts. At other times it took the form of a dark, fanged beast, and hovered constantly over my dizzy head, as if about to pounce on me and gouge my guts out with its monstrous talons” (10. 58). Hunger is a very powerful influence in Mark’s life. It eliminated his chances of leading a life without suffrage. Mark’s whole childhood revolved around when he would get his next meal.

    This battle for food is an every day thing. There is not one page in the book that is not talking about the amount of pain Mark is suffering through due to hunger. This hunger is caused by the apartheid. Because of the government’s impossible requirements, Mark’s family’s need for food will never be fulfilled. It requires an up to date pass, a job, and the correct papers, which are all nearly impossible to uphold do the the obstacles the apartheid creates. Thus, it is due to the apartheid that Mark and his family face the day to day struggle for the food they need to survive. Hunger, as Mark describes in the quote above can change a person.

    It began to rule his life. It used to be just a factor, but then it began to change him. It changed every emotion he felt into hate for the apartheid. Which is accurate, because it is the cause of his pain. Part III: Chapter 6 At the beginning of this chapter Johannes’ family is just getting over the recent ambush of Peri-Urban. Johannes has also been battling over his ethic background and whom he identifies himself as. Johannes’ father has told him that he is of the Venda people and that is it. However, Johannes does not want such a thing to be forced upon him but he is in a conflict because he knows he cannot question his father.

    Johannes’ father seems to be very dominating, despite his actual efforts to earn this right. I feel as if Johannes’ lack of respect and tolerance of his father is due to the fact that he believes his father is not deserving of these rights because he has so much trouble providing for his family. Where if he did have a good stable job, was able to provide a decent living space, and bring home adequate food, then Johannes would see that his father has worked hard for him and the least he could do was tolerate his dominance.

    Even though his father has not been able to do any of these things, and Johannes’ life is bad, he inadvertently blames his father. Soon after their argument Johannes comes home to his mother in panic, he soon comes to find out that his father was caught unemployed which is the worst crime a black man can commit and was sent to prison. This news came as a shock to Johannes, he was of course concerned about his survival and yet, in a way he was relieved that his abusive and bitter father would not be in his life for quite a long time.

    After his mother had calmed down she realized it was now her responsibility to take care of her three young children. She was never the less overwhelmed. Johannes never realized that even though his father was only able to provide very little, it was just enough. Now, with him gone the Johannes, Florah, and George have a new definition of what hunger and poor really is. Johannes would frequently pass out due to lack of nutrition. Despite their mothers best efforts they are barley surviving. She is trying so hard to get her passbook in order, during which Johannes realizes that he doesn’t actually know what a passbook does.

    His mother then explains that when he turns 16 he is required to get one and without it he cannot get a job or be recognized in society. His mothers passbook was not in order, so she was never able to produce it and apply for jobs, in order for her to get her pass book in order she needed money which she did not have and could not get. As you see once your passbook is out of order it is a never-ending cycle of detriment. Peri-Urban made another unexpected visit to their home, Johannes’ mother leaves and he is left to fend them off watching over his younger brother and sister since his father is still away.

    During these hard times Johannes and his mother did not known when to expect his father’s return. They eventually realize that it might be quite a while and meanwhile they are all trying to survive on only one meal each day. In the following months of his father’s arrest his family is evicted, it is at this time when it becomes very apparent to Johannes how bad he has it. Even though he is only 6 Johannes’ life is not looking good for him. Following their eviction George and Florah get extremely sick. Johannes is very scared for them and of course, they do not have any money to take them to a octor so they just have to hope for the best. Johannes talks to his mother and asks he why she just doesn’t borrow money from their neighbors and friends, she laughs in ridicule and explains to Johannes that everyone is living in poverty just like them never having any money to spare, especially for other people. Although some how by the grace of god George and Florah survived the illness. Johannes had always wondered why he had never gotten even slightly sick. In contrast to what you would think Johannes and his family did not go homeless but ended up in a small shack that was barely even recognized as a home.

    Right around the time George and Florah had gotten sick it was Christmas time, there was no way that they could celebrate it when they cant even afford food to survive day to day. This impacted all three children and took away all sense of hope they had. Christmas is the one time of year where even the poorest kids can have the slightest thing to look forward too. Now, Johannes, Florah, and George could just watch as all the other children boasted with pride, even if what they had gotten wasn’t new, it was new to them.

    Johannes’ mother had also started to get a bloated stomach, which reminded Johannes of George and Florahs sickness. He started to get concerned and talked to his mother about it and she later explained that she was pregnant and would come back from the clinic with a baby. Johannes felt belittled and betrayed by his mother, he thought to him self over and over again “why would she do this to us? ” There was absolutely nothing he could do about it and I don’t think he realized that his mother could not help it and his father was to blame. This would eventually spark a whole new feeling of anger towards his father.

    Part IV: Chapter 10: Johannes talks about his new found hunger, despite the fact that he has been hungry for a very long time. He describes this new type of hunger to have him not only in need of food and left with an empty stomach but also an empty heart. He has become used to the pains in his stomachs and throughout his body that come with being extremely hungry. Never has he felt the emotional ties that go along with it like he is currently experiencing. Johannes is finally realizing what his life is and how it is going to be. I think he has lost all hope that things might change for him.

    Everyone at some point always has a small amount of hope no matter what they do and believe that things can turn out different from them even though in the back of their minds they know its not true. This is what has happened to Johannes, he thought for moment that he might turn out different than all the other kids who have grown up in the ghetto but now he doesn’t believe he can overcome apartheid anymore. He stated how he was filled with constant hatred, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, loneliness, and selfishness. He became angry and bitter, just like his father. Does this pattern exist throughout the ghetto?

    People are beginning to become so helpless that they only worry about themselves, even if their own family is in need. They start to think it’s the only way to ensure their survival. On page 64 Johannes explains how he was so hungry that he would drink animal blood as soup. This is a desperate act that these people did because there is nothing else to unless they want to die. Then, on pages 70-73 Johannes most desperate attempt to get food he followed some of the other young boys from the ghetto to a place where he was told he would get a lot of food and he would get paid.

    He did not know what he was getting himself into but then realized the boys were selling themselves, their bodies, just to prevent starvation. Johannes had no idea and would not stoop to that level of desperation. This just shows how hungry these children must be and it is sickening to know that there are men who are able to get large amounts of food and extra money to pay young boys to have sex with them, and yet there are thousands of men and women who are homeless. Where did these sick men get all this money?

    Chapter 15: The Sh*t men do a hard, nasty, gross job that no one else will even think about doing. They are immigrant workers and are despised by everyone. It is sad when even the children find it amusing to ridicule such men. Johannes through lack of his better judgment made fun of them one night and they made him pay. They made him stand and stomp around in a bucket of feces, and they had every right too. Of course they do not enjoy their jobs, who would? These men do a job that no one else is willing to do.

    Why is it that they are looked down upon and not respected and appreciated? I finally realized that the people in the ghettos have terrible lives, and when immigrant workers come along and try and take the few jobs that are available to the people of the ghettos then of course they are going to despise them. However, the immigrants never get the jobs and are stuck being Sh*t men, but yet they are still treated bad. Wouldn’t they of all people understand what they are going through and how hard it is to overcome so many obstacles? I guess they do not.

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