Baba’s Gifts by Jenny Robson and Nomthandazo Zondo
The third person narrative voice has been used. The narrator is focalising through one particular, which is the main character, MaNdlovu. The readers see everything through her. “MaNdlovu looks about the yard and yes, it is clean.”
MaNdlovu has to tell her husband that they must start using protection (condoms) during sexual intercourse, as Dlamini works in the city, and spends most of his time there, which MaNdlovu suspects that he might be spending it with other city women. “And how many nights has she lain there unable to sleep wondering whether Dlamini is sleeping alone in the city or whether some city women.” MaNdlovu is nervous in speaking these ‘words’ because the couple live in a community that issues that happen in the bedroom are not spoken of. They are not yet exposed to speaking about sex and their sex lives. “Such a terrible shock and shame to see Nurse Margaret there, holding a wooden penis”(Nurse Margaret was demonstrating how to use a condom.” She is also nervous because Dlamini and MaNdlovu live in a patriarchal society. The husband is the head of the house and has all authority. She fears that he will become angry and will think that it is MaNdlovu who is seeing other men. “What if it makes him angry.” ”Is it because she is seeing other men while her husband is gone.”
As the readers we can establish that the story is set in a rural area. This is depicted by Dlamini coming back from the city, which means he is travelling back home, in the rural areas. ”Ma, what is it my father will bring me from the city?” It’s also seen when his son is coming back from tending cattle. “Vukile, comes back from checking the cattle.” There are dusty pathways which suggest that it is a rural area. “So MaNdlovu walks the dusty downhill path.” It can be assumed that the storyline is based during the 1990’s, because that is when the Aids awareness became bigger.
Dlamini is a stereotypical character. He is a common, traditional man that one would find in the rural areas. He is the head of his household. He is the breadwinner in his family, he travels out into the city to work and then returns home, after a few months, to provide for his family. “See, MaNdlovu, I have brought chicken pieces for our supper.” His physical appearance is dominant. ”She forgets when she is alone how tall and strong Dlamini is.”
The impression that we get of him is that he is unconcerned about his wife. He asks about the weather and how his mother doing, he is not concerned how ManNdlovu is doing. ”How have the rains been, my wife? And my mother? Is she well?” Dlamini being unconcerned is also shown when MaNdlovu is attempting to address the issue of protection during intercourse, but Dlamini has already made conversation with his friends. It is also shown when he leaves her walking behind him, carrying his box of belongings. “He is still talking as he strides ahead of her.”
Dlamini is a good father to his children. This is depicted when he gives the children the gifts that he has bought for them from the city. It can also be said that the gifts serve as a gendered role, especially because they are in a patriarchal society. Ntombi(the girl-child) received a doll- women are steered towards being in the house, looking after their children, whereas Vukile(boy-child) received a football-men are allowed more freedom, their activities take them away from home. Although Dlamini comes across as unconcerned, he cares about his wife, because she also receives a gift. “Dlamini is smiling. He sees her and says, ‘I have a gift for you too’”.
MaNdlovu is a typical rural wife. She stays in her house and looks after her children. MaNdlovu does what is expected of her to do and that is to please, respect and obey her husband. She is humble and it can be added that she has respect for her elders. MaNdlovu is constantly submissive and passive to her...