Mr. Luft, Mr. Barga
October 29, 2013
Liberation & Redemption Liberation is defined as the act of setting someone free from oppression, and redemption is the act of saving someone or being saved from something immoral or awful. The following examples are of redemption and liberation are shown through the novel Tsotsi by the change demonstrated through the once thug, and protagonist, Tsotsi. It is also shown through historical events in South Africa such as, the Scramble for Africa, apartheid, and the actions of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, formed in South Africa after apartheid. The novel can relate to the history of apartheid easily due to the fact that it takes place during apartheid in South Africa. All of these actions and events are to demonstrate that anyone can achieve liberation and redemption through preforming righteous acts, confessing the ruthless acts they committed, and changing to be a more virtuous person, or in some cases, groups of people.
In the beginning of the novel, Tsotsi, the protagonist Tsotsi is a thug, a gang member, and a murderer. He mugs and kills people with his other gang members Die Aap, Boston and Butcher. Tsotsi has three rules that he follows in his life and the first one is to always make sure he has his knife on him before he does anything. The knife was very important to Tsotsi; it symbolizes his want for a safe place to live where nothing can hurt him, and where he does not need a weapon to feel protected. Fugard shows how important the knife is to Tsotsi when he writes “Instinctively, but for no other reason than having awoken, he put his hand under his pillow to find his knife” (Fugard 170). His second rule is to never attempt to remember the past, and his third rule is not to tolerate questions about himself. The second and third rules are interconnected because for him to answer a question about himself he would have to think about the past, and therefore break two rules. Early in the novel Tsotsi and his gang murder a man called Gumboot then they took all of his money. Boston is not really the killing type, and gets sick to the point where he starts to drink a lot. When he is intoxicated he begin to question Tsotsi and saying things about decency, and “’you must have a soul Tsotsi. Everybody’s got a soul’” (Fugard 26). Tsotsi, frustrated with all of the questions, attacks and assaults Boston and then he hurries away.
Tsotsi has an extremely traumatic childhood which formed him into the murderer and thug. Undoubtedly, the most agonizing part of his childhood is when he father kicks the dog so violently that it breaks that dogs hind legs. The author of the book, Athol Fugard describes the scene in detail, and says “He had to open his eyes, and when he did he wished he hadn’t, because for all his tears and prayers he could not close them again...her (the dog] eyes were red, and her muzzle blind with pain and knowing what was coming she turned her head to the hok [where Tsotsi was] and started that way. She took an eternity, dragging her hind quarters which were useless” (Fugard 160]. This frightens him to the point where he runs away. Later in the novel, the image of the dog crawling towards him haunts him and helps him realize he wants to liberate himself and redeem himself, because in his eyes it symbolizes a horrible future full of death and sadness. When Tsotsi runs away he meets some other children whose families were taken away by the apartheid officials. These children live in tubes because they cannot afford a home or other place of shelter but, they selflessly invite Tsotsi to live with their group. During the beginning of his time with them, he is left alone at the tubes, and he smells wet newspaper. The author says “It started with that, loneliness, being the only person in the world, in a grey world, because clouds blew up and it rained all day. A wet, grey world smelling musty. It was the scent of damp