Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 33

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Chapter 33

  • Due to police raids, the family's beer business only lasts a year.
  • Mark begins working for a local Chinese butcher.
  • Mama doesn't have a permit but is employed as a washing girl. Her employers look the other way.
  • Papa begins to drink again.
  • Aunt Bushy gets pregnant and Uncle Piet leaves school so he can find a job and help support Granny. Granny bribes a policeman to look the other way so that Piet and Bushy can get jobs without the proper permits.
  • Mama is pregnant again and gives birth to a baby girl, Linah.
  • The family is broke.
  • One Monday, Papa wakes Mark up at 4am to ask for bus fare so he can go to work. He had lost all his money gambling.
  • Mark says he doesn't have any money.
  • Papa says he saw Mark counting his money last night.
  • It's my money, Mark says, and he plans to use it for other things. He's angry with Papa for gambling away his money when Mama needs money for the baby.
  • Papa yells at him, then tries to "smooth-talk" him. He says he'll pay Mark back "with interest" (33.12).
  • Papa keeps insisting, and wants to know what Mark is going to use the money for if not to help his father get to work. Books and the baby, Mark says.
  • Papa screams at Mark to give him the money, and Mark screams back. Papa is shocked and tells him to either give him the money or leave the house.
  • So Mark gets up and leaves. He goes to Granny's house.
  • Mark stays with Granny for a week and then goes home.
  • He expects retaliation, but just waits for it to come. He and Papa have opposite values on just about everything.
  • Mark realizes that his father "lived for the moment…because he was terrified of the future" (33.31).
  • As long as Park lived in the past, and as long as he clung to the traditional ways, he would never understand Mark's ambition or desire for something better. But even as his life sunk into chaos and degeneration, Papa never figured out that half of his problems were of his own making.

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