Coconut, by Kopano Matlwa

1727 Words May 26th, 2013 7 Pages
Marcel Hamman 2009096286
ENG314 01 March 2013
Hair, skin, eyes, the nose, or whatever else parts of the body are all used to portray a site of struggle in the novel “Coconut” by Kopano Matlwa. It is clear that identity is used in coherence with appearance. As detailed in the novel we as mere humans judge each other on the surface based merely on skin colour or even the accents we use when speaking. This causes the need for a change of appearance by the two main characters we encounter throughout this novel, namely Ofilwe and Fikile. Both characters, especially Fikile, in some way try to deny their heritage and focus on using the English language or changing their appearance in order to acquire a greater sense of superiority. During this
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Here the Green Apples are associated with being white and the Pears with being black. Now the colour green is usually associated with the idea of new life and new beginning, but the colour green is also associated with the emotion of jealousy. So here we have three examples in the novel of the colour green as being a symbol of having a white skin and being successful. Thus we can extrapolate that Kopano Matlwa probably wants to showcase the jealousy towards whiteness underlying in the characters’ subconscious during the era that the novel is set.

A more obvious way of portraying the body as a site of struggle is by using the idea of skin colour. Ofilwe describes her future children as having “Colgate smiles” and being “painted in shades of pink” (Matlwa, 2012: 19). This again shows her tendency to associate a lighter or different skin colour with success. Also we encounter the phrases “Stop acting black! Stop acting black!” (Matlwa, 2012: 31). This passage further echoes the idea of inferiority associated with a black skin. Next the story Tshepo told Ofilwe about the Green Apples and Pears ties in with the image of a difference in skin colour (Matlwa, 2012: 32-37). As mentioned above the story describes the Green Apples as being associated with being white and the Pears as being black. The idea of a traitor Pear is also introduced. This traitor Pear denies the fact that it is a Pear and attempts to associate

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