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Themes

The lives of both blacks and whites in apartheid South Africa were regulated by a very rigid system of rules and laws that dictated where each race was allowed to live, work, play, and travel. Whites had far fewer restrictions, since they were only prohibited from entering the small portions of land that had been set aside for the large population of black South Africans. Black South Africans were regulated heavily. The rules governing the lives of black South Africans were so restrictive that it was nearly impossible not to break them at some point or another. The passes blacks were required to carry were difficult to keep in order, and officials made it more difficult than necessary. Mathabane claims that as he grew up, he recognized that if he stayed in South Africa, his future would be dominated by arrests and punishments at the hands of unsympathetic white officials.

Questions About Rules and Order

  1. What laws governed the lives of blacks and whites in apartheid South Africa?
  2. What methods did the government use to keep order?
  3. What social, religious, and psychological methods were in place to keep society segregated?
  4. How did the system of rules and order damage the psyches of both blacks and whites?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although apartheid was enforced through the legal system, it was the psychological enforcement that proved most effective for keeping the system going.

Even though Mark found himself on the more favorable side of apartheid after graduating from high school and getting a job at Barclays Bank, he knew he would never be satisfied with life until he had the opportunity to live in a free, democratic society like the U.S.

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