Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 52

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Chapter 52

  • Mark's name isn't in the matriculation exam results published in the paper, and he's struggling to accept the idea that he's failed. How could he have failed?
  • Mama comforts him, saying there must be a mistake somewhere.
  • The next day, Mark finds many of his classmates in the Principal's office as well. The Principal is just as surprised as they all are to find their names not on the results.
  • One student suggests that they were deliberately failed.
  • Mark asks to see his results and it turns out, he had received a third-grade pass because he had failed his mother tongue, Tsonga.
  • But even if you count that, Mark protests, his average still comes out to even higher than a second-grade pass. How can they fail him for this?
  • The Principal doesn't know either and says they've already complained to the Department of Bantu Education. He hopes it's simply a mistake.
  • Mark goes home, thinking about the implications of this. With a third-grade pass, he can't even go to one of the black colleges in South Africa. How could he go to the U.S. if he didn't even graduate from secondary school?
  • The Department of Bantu Education decided to award Mark a second-class pass after going over the results. But because he had failed his mother tongue, he still couldn't go to one of the black universities.
  • Mark receives a letter from Stan Smith, who says his coach at University of Southern California has agreed to help. He will approach some coaches on Mark's behalf.
  • The letter helps Mark to feel better.
  • Mama asks if Mark plans to take the job at Simba Chips and Mark says no, he's going to wait to hear whether he's going to get to go to college in the United States.
  • Mama tells him to stop dreaming and start working.
  • Mark says he doesn't have a pass, and Mama tells him to go get one. Mark argues that he can't get a pass because the family is living there illegally.
  • Mark plays tennis each day at the Tennis Ranch while waiting for an offer from an American university. Everyone thinks he's crazy, that the offer from an American university will never come, and they urge him to get a job.
  • He starts training with Keith Brebnor, coach of one of the best South African tennis squads. He's the first black on the squad. At first, he's nervous and does badly but when he becomes more comfortable, he starts performing better. His friendships with whites open many discussions about apartheid, segregation, integration, and about the differences and similarities between the races.
  • Keith takes Mark aside and tells him he needs to keep practicing, and enduring stiff competition. Otherwise, his game will atrophy like any muscle. Most of the players on the squad are leaving for tournaments in the U.S. or Europe so the squad is ending.
  • Mark's only option is getting to America.

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