When Rain Clouds Gather Analysis

Read Summary

When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head is a novel set in Botswana, with the protagonist Makhaya Maseko leaving South Africa due to the apartheid system. The author’s aim is to showcase how tribalism and selfish chiefs prevent local people from prospering, resulting in terrible living conditions. The novel highlights the harshness of life through the dead cattle and vultures that are seen on their journey. The death of a child is a significant moment that displays the love and support between Makhaya and Paulina, and Makhaya’s determination to bring progress and equality. The novel illustrates the need to change customs to achieve a better life, and Makhaya is determined to make that change. Despite the bleakness of the situation, Makhaya offers hope for a better future.

Table of Content

When rain clouds gather written by Bessie Head is set in Botswana. The protagonist, Makhaya Maseko is escaping from South Africa as he does not want to be part of the apartheid system, he just wants peace and equality. The aims of the author are to show the horrible living conditions due to the same problem of tribalism as chiefs only thought about themselves and prevented local people to develop.

We can clearly see how harsh the living conditions were as it is mentioned ‘all those eighty cattle lay scattered about, quite still, quite dead’ this happened because of the dry season, not a single living thing could be seen as the passed by. When they finally got to the cattle post ‘vultures began swooping down in a straight column on the already decomposing carcasses’ this made it even clearer as there were only dead bodies and vultures were ready to eat them.

These quotes anticipate us about the death of the child. This was such an important moment because it shows us the love between these two characters, Paulina is hurt as her son has died but Makhaya is there to support her. Also, it shows us how the child lived away from the family and so he had no support from them and as a result, he dies ‘The boy is dead; why do you want to go in? After this question, Paulina says it’s a custom; Makhaya answers ‘All these rotten customs are killing us! Can’t you see I’m here to bear all your burdens? ’ This phrase demonstrates how Makhaya is determined, decided to change things, he wants to progress, he wanted equality and for these things to be achieved, first of all customs had to be forgotten, he does not care if seeing the dead body is custom because that would hurt even more to Paulina, he tries to protect her.

In conclusion, I can say that this section everything described is horrible, it just talks about death as everything is drying away because the chiefs don’t do anything to save their lands. Fortunately, Makhaya is there and he is trying to change that, he tries to change their way of living, he wants everyone to live in healthy conditions but needs Paulina to do it, he demonstrates there still is hope if people start making an effort.

Cite this page

When Rain Clouds Gather Analysis. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront