How is racism depicted in 'Life for a Life' by Alan Paton?

1065 Words5 Pages
How is racism depicted in 'Life for a Life ' by Alan Paton?

'Life for a Life ' is a short story written by a famous white South African author who became involved in the fight against apartheid. It is a story about the murder of a rich white farmer and the revenge killing of a black shepherd. The story was written at the height of apartheid in 1962. Most of Alan Paton 's work was written to express his views on the injustices in South Africa. His aim was to bring about change. Apartheid lasted from 1948 - 1991 and the story illustrates the division between the white and the black people.

In 'Life for a Life ' the two races live totally different lifestyles. The whites live in big houses and the blacks live in small stonehouses which
…show more content…
An example of his attitude can be seen in the line:

'Soleman Koopman would have gone away, with a smile on his lips and cold hate in his heart '.

This shows that he did not want to upset the white policemen, but deep down he hated them. This is another area where racism is depicted. Robbertse and the other white policemen are not worried about losing their jobs, but Soleman Koopman and the other black people are.

The writer develops Sara 's character after her husband has been taken away. Her thoughts are full of anger when she thinks of the way that Robbertse treated her husband. This is shown in the line:

'.....hear the tremendous voice that filled her house, with feigned politeness, and with contempt and with cruel smiling '.

Towards the end of the story Sara stands up to the white policemen as she has nothing to lose. However, Koopman reminds her that she has to think of her son 's future. This is shown in the line:

'I shall lose the licence, and who will help you to keep your son at the university? '

This shows that she still has responsibilities and that she should be careful. It is this pressure that they use to make her conform.

Racism is also depicted in the fact that Enoch Maarmen was allowed to disappear without any fuss and his widow was expected to just accept the situation and move from the farm. On the other hand, when Baas Flip was murdered the detectives immediately wanted to find the murderer.

This shows racism because the whites do not

    More about How is racism depicted in 'Life for a Life' by Alan Paton?

      Get Access