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Mark Mathabane's Kaffir Boy - Essay Example

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[College No/Title] Literacy Analysis: Mark Mathabane’s “Kaffir Boy” Introduction Man is a social being. His interactions with those around him bring out the most human he can be. Indeed, man and his development can, and is, affected by his surroundings…
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Mark Mathabanes Kaffir Boy
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"Mark Mathabane's Kaffir Boy"

Download file to see previous pages Certainly, the humanity – as well as the brutality –of man is powerfully displayed in Mark Mathabane’s autobiography, “Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa”. In this moving story of a young boy aspiring for a bright future while going through hell, Mathabane beautifully rendered a portrait of how society can affect the individual and, more importantly, how an individual can affect society. In relation, this paper will then explore the two-way interaction of the individual and the society, by looking at the experiences related by Mathabane in “Kaffir Boy”. Moreover, this paper will explore the answer to two questions: “How does society impact the individual”, and “how does the individual impact society?” Most importantly, this paper will attempt to prove, through an analysis of “Kaffir Boy” that through positive or negative instances and actions, the person and the society can ultimately influence each other towards betterment and progress. Society and Its Brutality As much as man is molded by the things around him, these things may not necessarily be good and pure. Indeed, sometimes, society can be the most evil nemesis for an individual trying to find himself in the world. This evil alone is seen in the novel’s title: Kaffir Boy. ...
Although numerous sociologists promote such inequalities, even suggesting that conflicts are necessary for societal functions, the different strata existing in the apartheid world show how society can be so brutal. This brutality is in fact supported by two important aspects of society: law and culture (tribalism). The law involves the different rules, norms, and regulations that dictated how a man should behave and act. In Mark’s childhood years, laws were enforced by the Peri-Urban, a group of abusive, sadistic, and unorganized policemen who supposedly enforce law and order. According to Mark, the Peri-Urban functioned through raids to “’clean up’ the neighbourhood” (1.11). Norms in colonial South Africa also involved surprise raids from the Peri-Urban, poverty, crimes, and starvation. The rules and the norms set by dominant members of the society, especially apartheid, make society a formidable force that can destroy the individual. Similarly culture, specifically tribalism, is another aspect by which society impacts the individual. Although Mark was proud of his heritage and customs, he recognized that in order to be free from the apartheid system, he had to risk losing his cultural identity in embracing the more modern ideals and education of the white world. However, his father’s insistence in continuing the tribal rituals of South Africa showed that culture may somehow negatively affect the individual in terms of progress, wherein tradition hampers the individual in moving towards modernization and other forms of enlightenment. Society and Its Humanity To be human means to be humane; and to be humane means to be compassionate and caring. Thus, in as much as the human ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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