Study Guide

Kaffir Boy Chapter 9

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Chapter 9

  • One day, Mark sees some men pitching a tent for a revival. He's terrified by the two white men accompanying the tent, and runs home to tell Mama that the white man is there.
  • Mama is relieved to see that it's a group of evangelists and she explains that they teach a new religion, Christianity.
  • Mark wants to visit the meeting, and Mama says that she'll ask Papa to take them all.
  • Mark leaves to watch what's going on. He wonders if Papa will let them come, but then he remembers overhearing his mother telling Papa that their sacrifices to tribal gods hadn't helped them and maybe it was time to try something new.
  • That night, Mama manipulates Papa into letting them go the following night.
  • The tent is crowded with people. The evangelists are dressed in white robes, and wear big gold crosses, holding hands and swaying side to side. The white men aren't there and Mama explains that they're not allowed in the townships at night.
  • The service is full of pomp and ceremony, and provokes a conflict between the Christians and the people in the audience who want to remain loyal to traditional religion. The black evangelist argues for the necessity of Christ to lead Africans. He squashes dissent from the audience by telling those who speak up that they're ignorant. He claims that those who adhere to the tribal religions will burn in hell.
  • Mark is tense and excited, waiting for the anger and shock in the audience to erupt into a fight. Papa is one of the angry men.
  • The evangelist continues to denounce traditional beliefs and ancestor worship.
  • Finally, Papa and some of the other men start screaming at him, calling him a liar and a traitor.
  • Papa grabs Mama and the kids and makes them leave.
  • On the way home, Mama protests, saying there is more to Christianity than what they heard and she wishes they had stayed.
  • Despite their fight, Mama takes the children back to the tent the next day while Papa is at work.
  • Then Mark and Mama discuss Christianity when they get back. He's particularly curious about the portraits of God and heaven, and hell and the Devil that he'd seen in classmates' homes.
  • Mark had always felt that the pictures portrayed the Devil and hell as associated with black people, and felt a corresponding dislike for the ideas.
  • Mark argued that Christianity was just a religion for white people, while Mama argued that there was something to the religion.
  • Papa walks in at that moment and starts screaming that if Mama ever teaches his son that kind of nonsense again, he'll cut out her tongue. He forbids Mark from playing with Christian kids.
  • Mark began to believe that what Papa said was true. He believed the men and women who converted to Christianity were fools.

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