POSSIBLE ESSAY ANSWERS
“I have not known a days peace and contentment in my life.” Discuss this statement in light of the various internal conflicts faced by Makhaya in the novel. Support your ideas with details from the novel. In the novel When Rain Clouds Gather by Bessie Head, we are a spectator to trials and tribulations of Makhaya, the protagonist. While many of these trials are external, they also impact on his state of mind and on his emotional detachment. As an individual, Makhaya is internally tormented. He is tormented due to his antisocial tendencies, his inability to feel a sense of belonging, and the weight of external conflict which he constantly broods over. By using such a broken and fractured man as the protagonist, we are able to more easily understand the themes of the novel. “When Rain Clouds Gather” is an attempt to suggest an alternative to desire for power.” Discuss this statement with reference to the thematic concerns of the novel. Support your ideas with details from the novel. Bessie Head, by setting her novel When Rain Clouds Gather in a small refugee village in Botswana, challenges her readers to question their assumptions of power. The village of Golema Mmidi, barren and breathing poverty is described as a “utopia”. This twist in the portrayal of power, follows throughout the novel where we come to question all authority. In this, we undertake a thematic journey to discover an `
‘alternative’ to the desire for power. This alternative is illustrated through addressing the themes of self determination, feminism and tribalism. Through the characters we come to understand that most power is irrelevant in the personal journey of self discovery. Sample Essays
Question. “I have not known a day’s peace and contentment in my life.” Discuss this statement in light of the various internal conflicts faced by Makhaya in the novel. Support your ideas with details from the novel. ESSAY 1
In the novel When Rain Clouds Gather, by Bessie Head, the protagonist, Makhaya, is riddled with many afflictions. Throughout the book, he attempts to reconcile his conflicts and forge a new future for himself. He never achieves total closure, but he does realise some sense of peace though belonging to a community and improving the standard of life in Botswana. At the start of the novel Makhaya is shown as a desperate, hopeless man escaping from a place where he is not regarded as human; apartheid South Africa. Makhaya says; “I want to feel what it is like to live in a free country and maybe some of the evils in my life will correct themselves.” We can acknowledge the fact that he is weak and unstable at this time and Head describes his inner self as “a jumble of chaotic discord.” In this, he borders on the line between sanity and insanity as he crosses into Botswana. Throughout most of the book, Makhaya struggles with many major issues. Racism, sexism, depression and the search for identity are all tackled by Head as she attempts to liberate herself from the shackles of what she has experienced herself in South Africa. Makhaya in When Rain Clouds Gather is the voice of Head, and this makes his character and his struggles more genuine. Like Head, Makhaya, “was trying to flee [this] horror and replace it with innocence, trust, and respect.” We learn that the thing he craves the most is to settle down and to be uninhibited by the social indecencies of a racist state. It is the move to Botswana that is the catalyst for change for both Head and Makhaya; Head says that “happiness is dirt cheap in Botswana.” Makhaya attains deliverance as he discharges his anguish and despair to the kind, motherly character of Mma Millipede and he finds a way around the metaphorical ‘wall’ that he had built up to keep himself lonely and isolated. He also gains a new found hope in humanity as the village of Golema Mmidi welcomes him in with open arms. He is given refugee status, a home, a job and a family here and in a...
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