Kaffir Boy
Kaffir Boy
by Mark Mathabane

Kaffir Boy Analysis

Literary Devices in Kaffir Boy

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Throughout his childhood, Mark experiences hunger, sometimes verging on starvation. He describes it as a devouring beast that turns his every emotion into hatred: "At times it was the silent destro...

Setting

Mark Mathabane spends a lot of time explaining the setting of Kaffir Boy. Because the world of black South Africa was off-limits to whites (except policemen) throughout the apartheid era of 1948 to...

Narrator Point of View

The entire book is told from Mark Mathabane's point of view. Kaffir Boy is his autobiography, and every scene is offered from his perspective. The narrative is grounded in Mark's experience, althou...

Genre

In Kaffir Boy, Mark Mathabane tells the story of how he escaped apartheid South Africa through education and sports. His intellect and his athletic talents, combined with sheer perseverance, will p...

Tone

Because this is an autobiography, the tone of the narrative is sympathetic to the narrator, Mark Mathabane. For example, though Mathabane was harshly criticized for his decision not to boycott the...

Writing Style

This is an incredibly detailed account of Mathabane's life, from his earliest memories to the time he left South Africa. For example, Chapter 2 opens with Mathabane recounting a dream he has at thr...

What's Up With the Title?

"Kaffir" is an Islamic word that means infidel. It was widely used as a racial slur against black people in 19th and 20th century South Africa, and probably originated among the Cape Malay people,...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

Though Mathabane's narrative tells the story of one young man's escape from apartheid, the four epigraphs emphasize the struggle against apartheid, and the fight for liberation. Let's take a look a...

What's Up With the Ending?

The ending of Kaffir Boy is actually the beginning of Mark's life in America. As he says goodbye to his family, and to Alexandra, he realizes that although he's leaving, South Africa will always be...

Tough-o-Meter

The language used in this book is easy and the plot is so action-packed that, despite its length, you can whirl through it in no time. The difficult part comes in understanding the political and re...

Plot Analysis

Mark's childhood is dominated by police raids, hunger, and violence.Mark spends his early years afraid of the police, afraid of whites, and consistently hungry. His father is arrested several times...

Trivia

Mark Mathabane married a white American woman and struggled with a different set of race relations as a result. He and his wife co-authored a book call Love in Black and White about the struggles t...

Steaminess Rating

There isn't a lot of sex in this book, but there is one extremely disturbing sex scene that has caused parents and teachers concern when teaching Kaffir Boy in high school. The scene depicts a grou...

Allusions

Matthew 19:14 (30.96)William Shakespeare (30.110)Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers (30.113)Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (30.113; 41.41)Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (30.113)The...

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