Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 50

By Mark Mathabane

Chapter 50

  • The day of the tennis match turned out to be the most important match of Mark's life.
  • Wilfred gives Mark new shoes and taxi fare the night before and tells him not to be nervous, to slow down and let the other player, Abe Segal, make the mistakes.
  • Mark's family is unable to come but Mama prays before he goes. On the way to the bus rank, blacks stare at him in contempt. They had read the newspapers and saw him as a traitor.
  • Mark arrives two hours before his match. Though there are officials from the Black Tennis Association there, they don't speak to him except to mutter "Uncle Tom" or "traitor' under their breath.
  • Abe Segal was known for clowning around on the tennis court. They met before the match and, though he was funny and kind, Mark was nervous.
  • Segal's style confused Mark, and he grew impatient, starting to make mistakes. Segal won the first set, 6-2. The crowd left. An elderly white man advised Mark to "run him down" and Mark says that's what he's been trying to do.
  • Mark lost the second set as well. Segal told Mark good luck, that he shouldn't give up, because it was a good match.
  • But Mark is depressed. Though people tell him it was a good match, he feels out of place, and thinks he's let his people down.
  • The whites he meets tells him it was a good match while blacks laugh at him.
  • A few days later, Mark buys a paper and discovers that he was banned for life from the Black Tennis Association. He talks to Owen Williams, who says he'll have to wait until the end of the tournament. Mark wonders if Williams is really going to help him after all.
  • He heads to Ellis Park one day, looking for someone to play with. He sees Stan Smith and Bob Lutz playing. They're the top doubles team in the world so he watches them and is impressed with their playing.
  • Every once in a while, Stan Smith looks at Mark and smiles, and Mark smiles back. Bob Lutz finally tells Stan he's had enough and the two head for their tennis bags. Mark gets close, wanting to ask for their autographs but not sure he dares.
  • Stan Smith looks at Mark and asks him if he'd like to hit some.
  • Mark can't believe it but he gets on the court, wondering if he's going to make a fool of himself again.
  • Mark doesn't make a fool of himself. Stan gives encouragement as they play. Mark can see he's improving.
  • While they're playing, Mark notices a pretty blonde woman standing near the fence. He recognizes her as Marjory Gengler, Stan's wife. They invite Mark to join them for a snack in the Players' Lounge, off-limit to blacks mostly because it's too expensive.
  • Mark ends up telling Stan and Marjory everything about his life. They are shocked but they care. He remembers that they had played for American colleges, so he tells them his dream of playing for an American college.
  • When he leaves the Smiths, he feels encouraged but sad. He had never met such honest and compassionate whites.
  • The next day, Mark goes to Ellis Park again and hits some balls with Stan. Then they have lunch together in the Players' Lounge.
  • Several days pass and Mark's friendship with the Smiths solidifies. Stan promises to look into the matter of scholarships when he gets back to the States. They want to know what he'll do in the meantime, and Mark says he'll test the government's promise to allow interracial sports. He'll apply for membership at one of the whites-only tennis clubs. If that doesn't work, he'll keep practicing at the Tennis Ranch.
  • Stan wants to know if there are any other tournaments that Mark can play in, and Mark remembers that he could play in the Sugar Circuit.
  • Stan and Mark go to look for Owen Williams to find out how Mark can enter the competitions.
  • Though the date had passed, Williams said he could arrange for Mark to play in any of them.
  • Stan agrees to pay for Mark to play in the Port Elizabeth and Cape Town tournaments. He arranged to get rackets, tennis shoes, shirts and shorts for Mark as well.
  • When Mama hears what the Smiths have done for Mark, she cries and tells Mark they should pray that God blesses the Smiths and protects them all their lives. So they kneel together and pray.

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