Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 37

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Chapter 37

  • One night while Mark is reading Drum Magazine, Papa and two men leap into the room, shouting, "There he is!" Mark grabs a knife to defend himself while Mama runs into the room, wondering what's going on.
  • Papa says it's time that Mark is circumcised. He has to attend a "mountain school" where he becomes a man in the Venda tribe.
  • Mama says they didn't discuss it and Papa says it doesn't matter. He adds that Mark is his son and needs to become like him.
  • Mark says Papa has no behaviors he wants to imitate.
  • One of the men tells Mark to put down his knife – he'll only be gone for three months.
  • Mama points out that Mark's exams are coming up.
  • Mark threatens to kill anybody that comes near him, and Papa says he's bluffing.
  • Mama tells the men that Mark is a tsotsi. The two men decide to leave, telling Papa to talk to Mark. As they leave, they mention that they'll be back tomorrow.
  • Papa leaves with them and Mark heads to Granny's, where he stays for two weeks before coming home.
  • From that day on, Papa rarely talked to Mark.
  • Life is so stressful at home that it starts to affect Mark's health. He grows paranoid, believing Papa is poisoning him.
  • He sits for his final exams for Standard Six. He wants to do well so that he'll earn a scholarship to help him pay for secondary school. He hopes to do well, but the situation with his father is affecting him badly. Mama tries to encourage him.
  • When the results come out, Mark is among the top six students. He had a First Class pass, almost earning Distinction.
  • The Principal tells him that he's one of the best students they've ever had and they're proud to give him a government scholarship that would pay for three years of secondary school.
  • Mama says this is an answer to her prayers and Papa wonders if the government will give Mark a job when he's done with school.
  • Mark decides to go to the local secondary school instead of boarding school in the tribal reserves.
  • It's an important decision because the Alexandra Secondary School has a tennis team.
  • Mark quickly rises to the top of the class, in part because all of his reading had given him a good head for English.
  • He practices tennis as much as possible, and works part-time for the Smiths to earn money for his uniform and expenses not covered by the scholarship. What he can't pay for, Uncle Piet and Aunt Bushy help pay for.
  • Mark tells Uncle Piet that he'll make him proud.
  • Piet says they're already proud of him and people know him (Piet) as that "smart boy's uncle." It's already benefiting him.
  • Their help made it possible for him to continue practicing tennis.
  • Mark gets better and better, until he finally defeats his coach, Scaramouche. Mark becomes the number one player at his school and becomes captain of the team.
  • He meets Tom, a Zulu tennis player who has been accepted into an elite tennis club called Halfway House, where he plays against whites.
  • Mark is shocked that he plays against whites and begins to wonder if Tom is a police informer. But Tom guesses what he's thinking and tells him he's "no Uncle Tom." He says the people in the Tennis Ranch are white liberals and they like Tom because he's neat, in high school, and speaks English, Afrikaans, and German.
  • Mark asks Tom to introduce him (Mark) to Wilfred Horn, the man who runs the Barretts Tennis Ranch. Tom makes the introduction.
  • Wilfred is exactly as Tom said, and he and Mark get along.
  • Wilfred is shocked when Mark describes his life and says apartheid is a terrible thing. He asks Mark to play at the Tennis Ranch, saying that he can teach them the reality about life in South Africa.

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