South Africa and Amy Biehl Essay

Submitted By mersiha_ramic
Words: 863
Pages: 4

Mersiha Ramic
Professor Renee Shautman
English 2110
22 September 2014
Ying and Yang, Good and Bad “The storm in the heart of a person is more dangerous than howling winds and raging waves. You can run from those and seek shelter elsewhere, perhaps escape them altogether. How does one run away from the heart, one’s own or that of another” (176). How does someone decide what is good and what is evil? There cannot be one without the other. Can someone be fully good or evil? Sindiwe Magona creates a story that questions what is wrong and perhaps justifies something so evil and unthinkable by presenting a novel that contains a constant push and pull between innocence and savagery, wrong and right, hatred and betrayal. The novel is strategically outlined using an epistolary format to explain the murder of Amy Biehl. Sindiwe creates a parallel within the story by beginning and ending it with a juxtaposition of Amy’s death. The brutal details of the murder are not mentioned until the last chapter of the book because no reader would sympathize with Mxolisi if it had been otherwise. In the slums of a dusty village, Magona makes readers sympathize with a killer. In the small city of Guguletu, where the novel takes place, Sindiwe Magona explains the importance of cows, the renaming of a newly wed wife, and the segregation between blacks and whites amongst other aspects of the society/culture. People vary from culture to culture. Every culture has their general rules of wrongs and rights, and this is a major theme in Mother to Mother as well as other African literature, such as Things Fall Apart. The aspect of violence is briefly mentioned as a “light” event in the town (40). Even hearing Sindiwe Magona speak at a convention she said, “I was so angry at him [the illustrator of my book] that I could have killed him!” The actions of murder and violence are taken lighter in this South African culture than in other places around the world; however, during the death of Amy Biehl the town takes a different view on murder. In their opinions, murder alone could be justified to an extent, but murdering a while girl could never lead to good. Mandisa, the mother of Mxolisi, rationalizes her son’s actions as the outcome of decades of built up hatred. Through the novel she explains her son’s upbringing and the nation’s growing oppression. The alignment of historical events in Mxolisi’s life formed him into an antagonistic hero. To his people he was a king, possibly even a God like figure to some. He helped the crippled and elderly of his town, and roamed the streets daily to rebel against the apartheid (15). On the other hand, he was a murder with fresh blood on his hands at such a young age. Necklacing, murdering, and steeling draw him to an evil that he himself does not even see. Mxolisi grew up in a society where whites suppressed blacks for centuries and hatred brews amongst his people from birth. A child learns to hate a white person before physically seeing one. Apartheid in South Africa made it legal to discriminate on a group of people who were original the founders of the land. Sindiwe continues to elaborate the outcomes of apartheid on citizens, especially those of younger…