Let’s Make a Deal
“The Prisoner Who Wore Glasses”
The theme throughout Bessie Head’s “The Prisoner Who Wore Glasses” has to do with conflict and a resolve between characters. The conflict concerns two characters, one prisoner who goes by the name Brille, and the new warder, Jacobus Stephanus Hannetjie. Brille is a political prisoner incarcerated in a particular work span with other prisoners; the work span is called Span One. This story is filled with a few situations where a conflict arises between Brille and Hannetjie. As you start to read into the story the first conflict arises between Brille and the new warder Hannetjie over a cabbage that Brille dropped. Hannetjie is a new warder who is very strict and tries to push a hard line against Brille and the whole Span One. This conflict between Brille and Hannetjie starts to unfold when Brille drops a cabbage and Hannetjie says “Who dropped that cabbage?” in a thunderous voice. Another conflict arises again the next day to be exact when Brille is caught stealing grapes from the farm shed. The story starts to take a turn when Brille catches Hannetjie stealing fertilizer and then comes up with a clever way to make Hannetjie into the kind of warder the inmates really wanted to begin with.
In the story Brille is described as a “thin little fellow with a hollowed-out chest and comic knobble knees.” He is a political prisoner residing in a particular work span known as Span One with other political prisoners. Hannetjie is the new warder; he’s described as being a simple, primitive, brutal soul having “eyes the color of the sky but very frightening.” The first conflict arises between Hannetjie and Brille when Brille drops a cabbage near the new warder Hannetjie. Hannetjie for some reason not only punishes Brille but decides to punish the whole of Span One by taking away three meals. Hannetjie tries to force Brille to call him “Baas” and when Brille declines Hannetjie’s request,...