Ah, Woe Is Me
A) Summary of The Story: In the beginning of this short story we are introduced to Sarah, an aging black servant living in South Africa. She works hard for an upper-class white family and spends all of her money on education for her three children who are sent to a boarding school. They come home once a year at Christmas, and the first time the narrator meets the children, she is surprised at their well-mannered behaviour. She finds, however, that Sarah is a bit harsh towards them, and she comments on this. Sarah tells her that it is better to learn the lesson now and grow to accept one's fate later. In the course of the following year, Sarah must give up her job because of her legs, and one day her daughter comes to the house. Slowly she tells her story to the narrator. How the younger brother is working now, and how she is taking care of Sarah. The narrator offers her some clothes and some money and invites her inside for a cup of tea. When she is about to leave, she starts crying and can only mutter that her mother is very ill. Unsure of what to do, the narrator hands her a handkerchief.
B) An Essay About the Text: The setting in this story is South Africa in the 1950's. Apartheid and segregation are words that describe the conditions under which the blacks (the native Africans) live perfectly. The blacks nearly have no rights and must accept being oppressed by the whites. Sarah is only one of many poor blacks who only just manages to earn a living by working as a servant for a rich white family (the narrator). Slavery does not exist anymore, but it can be difficult to distuingish the life of a slave from that of a native African in the 50's except from the fact that they do after all get paid for their work. Sarah is very concerned about her children getting a good education. She probably wants them to have a better life than she has had so far, and while that is a very noble thought, the facts speak against it. Her children do not at this...
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