The Collector of Treasures
The social imbalances between men and women are evident in the story “The Collector of Treasures.” While the woman struggles for her own individual freedom, the man embraces his and neglects his duties as a father and husband. Freedom is not being alone, without responsibility. It is being loved and storing treasures of friendship throughout life. A woman can never be free if she knows her husband is always getting drunk and sleeping around. Similarly, a man cannot experience freedom if his wife loves another or shows bitterness. The traditions of the tribes in this story have been shaken by an increase in wages; men now have more money to spend on alcohol and prostitutes. This separates the good from evil, and tests the bonds of marriage. The author, Bessie Head, compares “evil” men with good men, and believes that only these two types of men exist. Either the male is fully tainted and selfish, or completely caring and family-oriented. An example of the former is Garasego Mokopi, Dikeledi’s aloof husband. He left his wife and three children once his earnings increased to indulge in beer and concubines. More than eight years passed without so much as a “hello” between the two. However, in these eight years Dikeledi developed a sister-like bond with her neighbor, Kenalepe Thebolo. The two daily confided in one another, and Dikeledi supported her family with gifts and payment from Kenalepe. Their friendship was so close that Kenalepe, knowing Dikeledi’s loneliness, offered her husband Paul to her for a night. Dikeledi refused, but this act shows the strength of their intimate relationship. Austin 2
Paul sees Kenalepe as an equal, unlike most men in the village. Also, Paul is devoted to his family, working hard to ensure they always have enough food. He shows tenderness to his wife and children. “He was a poem of tenderness.” (p. 93) The opposite is true of Garasego. After years...