Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 41

By Mark Mathabane

Chapter 41

  • Mark is still participating in debates at school, but realizes that the topics selected by the government aren't topics designed to get the students thinking but, rather, to emphasize their place in life. For example, one topic is "Country life is better than town life" (41.3).
  • Mark got chosen to defend the statement and, though he had strong feelings against "tribalism," he did his best to prepare himself for the assignment and to argue to the best of his abilities.
  • The library was decent, but Mark was one of the few students who spent any time there.
  • One day the Principal asked him if he was planning to read every book in the library, and Mark admitted he had only two passions: books and tennis.
  • The Principal said he was also surprised by the books Mark selected to read, because they weren't the books that black students usually chose. But Mark believes that the books must contain the secrets to the power that whites had over blacks.
  • Mark explains to the Principal that he plans to leave Alexandra someday, and he believes tennis is the key.
  • The Principal wants to know why he's so eager to leave Alexandra, and Mark replies that he wants his freedom. He knows he has no future in South Africa. In fact, he feels like a stranger here.
  • The Principal is startled but says that this always happens to students as sensitive as Mark. He believes that it's time the black man stopped pretending whites would have a change of heart because he will lose too much if he does that.
  • The Principal appreciates the fact that Mark can recognize that there are good whites and bad whites, but he cautions Mark to be careful. If blacks decide that Mark is too close to the white world, they will see him as a traitor. And he will never be fully accepted into the white world. The Principal warns Mark to not forget his heritage.
  • Mark vows that he will never forget that he is black.
  • But it was true that many blacks believed Mark's love for English, poetry, and tennis meant that he was trying to be white.
  • Mark was confident he could understand any book, but Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice was another story.
  • Mark heard a radio broadcast of the play and tried to imitate the pronunciation he heard, until the teacher praised his efforts and said he really knew how to read Shakespeare. The teacher commends him for listening to the radio to learn English.
  • From then on, Mark listens to the radio to prefect his English. When Mark hears a symphony playing, he immediately falls in love with classical music.
  • One day, Wilfred asked him if he understands classical music and Mark admits he doesn't, but it soothes him so he loves it.
  • Wilfred suggests that Mark try to understand it better so he can enjoy it more, and invites him to listen to his collection of classical composers.
  • Mark begins to read composer's biographies to find out what had influenced them to create the music they created.
  • At school, his friends made fun of him for liking classical music, but Mark says he listens to rock and roll too. It all depends on his mood.
  • Papa sees Mark's interest in classical music as yet more evidence that Mark wants to be white.
  • When Mark protests that a lot of black people listen to classical music, he demands that Mark provide him with one black person he knows that listens to classical music. Mark can't and Papa pronounces that he will never be a man.
  • Mark gets highest marks in his class at the midyear exams and is chosen to receive a new scholarship that pays for everything for his final year. The scholarship, awarded by a potato chip and cookie company called Simba Quix, is provided so that students like Mark can go on to college.
  • Mr. Wilde, the company's representative, said the company would have provided for these scholarships a long time ago if it hadn't been for the laws but since the laws relaxed, he hopes the new scholarship helps students like Mark to succeed.
  • In addition to the scholarship, Simba Quix offering summer employment at their headquarters in hopes that they can one day have students like Mark come work for them.

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