Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 31

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Chapter 31

  • Mark's goal in life becomes learning English. He starts reading Treasure Island until the story shows up in his dreams. He hopes that he'll be able to get more books when he visits, but he can't skip school that often.
  • He wonders why his tribal school doesn't carry books like Treasure Island. His teachers told him that under Bantu Education, black children were supposed to learn tribal life.
  • Each day, Mark meets Granny and asks if she brought home any new books. Sometimes she did, and sometimes she didn't. Mark reads the same books over and over again, borrowing Mr. Brown's dictionary to understand new English words.
  • He starts imitating the way white people talked, hoping to pronounce words properly.
  • Reading takes Mark off the street and out of the gangs. He hears that some of his old gang members are considering retaliation.
  • One afternoon, Mark is splitting wood in front of the house when Jarvas, the leader of the Thirteenth Avenue Tomahawks, approaches him, wanting to know if Mark is still one of them.
  • Mark says yes, even though he isn't interested anymore.
  • Jarvas wants to know why he hasn't been to any of their fights then and Mark says he's been busy.
  • Jarvas tells him that it's time for him to fight, and Mark agrees. When Jarvas leaves, he's nervous and afraid.
  • He shows up at the next fight, though. The Tomahawks were fighting the Monguls with every weapon on hand, including machetes, bottles, rocks, and daggers.
  • Mark is in the middle row, fighting with the Tomahawks. The guy to Mark's left is hit in the eye, and his eye gouged out by a stone.
  • That's when Mark decides to quit the gang. He realizes that gang life leads to death.
  • But leaving the gang meant he was constantly harassed. Jarvas threatened his life, so Mark was extra careful. He never went out at night, and he came home right after school. Occasionally, he played soccer with kids who weren't affiliated with gangs.
  • Mark tells his parents that he's quit gang life, and Mama sighs with relief. She tells him that, like every black boy growing up in Alexandra, he had two choices: to become a tsotsi or not to become a tsotsi.
  • Mama is relieved he's decided to take the "difficult way out" (31.29). She tells him life will be hard now because his former friends will do everything they can to entice or bully him to join them.
  • Papa simply tells Mark to be careful or they'll kill him. He wonders if he should send Mark back to the homelands, where the people on the reserves can make him into a warrior.

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