Fugard first opens the novel and gives us the impression that Sophia town is a town with lots of poverty, this is seen in the physical description of the environment ‘streets crooked and buckled’ and ‘ sharp with stones’ The quotations paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind that the town is poor and that it is normal for people to be born into unsuitable conditions. The effect that Fugard creates about describing the poor physical environment at fist could convey that the physical environment is extremely important and that it personifies people living in Sophiatown, This could also show that Tsotsi was born into a similar environment which could have mentally scared his mind and in relation to the meaning of Tsotsi ‘ thug’ could represent the lives of young people in the township, the fact that they were born into poverty could alter their mind and make them do immoral actions.
In relation to poverty comes the significance of the destruction of the physical environment in Sophiatown, Sophiatown is described to be ‘ sharp with stones’ and evidence backing up the destruction of the township is ‘ a few more roofs were down’ .This creates a sense of pathos for the reader and makes the reader feel a sense of sickness that people living in poverty were losing their homes. The significance of the destruction relates to the lives of those living inside the township, as it says ‘ a few more roofs down’ ; it implies that prior to that roofs had been taken down, what some people might infer from this is that the destruction of homes destroys people’s lives and can kill them mentally and physically, The township is giving human like characteristics when the windows were described as ‘ gaped like skulls in the fading light’ the meaning of this shows that people could have been dying this is shown and depicted by imagery and the language used where the light fades represent that life is fading away and is dying and that eventually the whole of the town ship will be gone along with its people. By extension it says that the ‘ men had been at work’. This creates a sickening effect that men were hired to clear the ‘ slums’ which shows the brutality and harsh actions towards the people.
On the subject of brutality which is a reoccurring theme in the novel comes the brutal action towards the people from the ‘corrupt’ police. The actions were towards Tsotsi’s mother and this can be seen when the police ‘ dragged her to the door’ and when she was ‘ pushed inside’ the police van. This can be seen as horrifying as the actions were simply inhumane and extremely brutal. The actions of the police imply that the police treat people/women like objects and that they have no sense of morality, especially when young Tsotsi was in the room. By extension the language used to describe the actions creates a sense of sickness in the reader’s mind which leads to the actions being horrifying. This can be seen when the police ‘stretched out their hands’ and when the door ‘slammed’. The language makes this horrifying because the word ‘stretched’ in this context could suggest that the police are preparing for an assault on an innocent woman. The fact that it is a woman speaking shows the reader how women were treated in history. This makes it horrifying because it supports the evidence that these townships had people who were neglected and struggling. In addition the language also makes this horrifying in the novel because of the continuous actions of the police to Tsotsi’s mother. The repetition of the word ‘and’ followed by an action could also make people infer that bad actions are suffering is quite normal. This is horrifying simply because it is a continuation of brutal actions by the police.
Fugard also shows the importance of the physical environment by conveying a sense of community in the novel, this is seen in ‘ Waterworks Square