Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

  • Papa was arrested again, and hunger is Mark's constant companion.
  • Despite warnings from his mother not to beg for food, Mark continues to do so until Mama catches him and beats him.
  • Mark admits that he's not getting enough to eat at home. But Mama says that no matter how hungry he is, he shouldn't eat strangers' food because it could be poisoned.
  • Several of their neighbors were witches who liked to poison food and feed it to children. Two women from whom Mark had often received food were certainly witches, Mama continued.
  • Mark is scared out of his wits, admitting that he had just eaten food made by those two women the day before.
  • Mama says they'll just have to wait and see, since the witch doctor isn't available.
  • The next few hours are pure torture for Mark as he waits to see whether he lives or dies.
  • A month later, Mama says the poison must have been weak.
  • Mark wants to know if he can ever eat food made by other people, and Mama says he can eat food at the houses of some of his friends.
  • One day, a stranger gives Mark some food. He brings it home and Mama places it in a small bowl and leaves it near a rat hole.
  • The next morning, sure enough, there's a dead rat near the bowl, and the piece of meat pie is gone.
  • Mark always wondered how that rat died.

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