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Jessica Perez June 9, 2010 Professor Kirsner
one story can and will be interpreted in more than one way. To be of mixed blood during the Apartheid era was an act some would refer to as shameful.2 The construction of a family tree is a complex task with countless amounts of broken branches. many flaws with some truth emerge. Similarly. Both novels being written during the Apartheid era is important to remember. From Etienne Van Heerden¶s Ancestrial Voices to Elsa Joubert¶s Poppie Nongena. the difficulties that translating an already inaccurate story from one language to another will result in not only merit but also disagreement. Genealogy is convoluted in that it involves many ties. Throughout the novel . but accumulated stories of late ancestors and the emergence of so called ³shameful acts´. and mysterious family ties are important when gaining a greater understanding of the Apartheid era in South Africa. In the telling of a complete and accurate story that is submerged in the mind of one¶s memory. Understanding struggles and hardships even when filtered through various personalities. retold stories. importance in understanding the novels and suppressing thoughts of hidden and flawed retold stories is key. As a reader that has no personal involvement with South Africa during this era. one can grasp an overall concept of the struggles being told through various eyes and stories. With that being said. and mysteries that lie in the soil of hidden words. not necessarily dealing with the biological relations of genes that one might expect. The controversy lies in the complex and confusing family ties throughout Ancestrial Voices and the interpretation done by Joubert of the personal accounts of a South African black woman in Poppie Nongena. fallen leaves.
If sharing this land with people of mixed blood wasn¶t enough. Toorberg. family of shame.3 Ancestrial Voices. magically beautiful´ (Heerden 222). various characters are introduced throughout the novel and it becomes quite difficult to figure out their purpose in the story. The mystery not only lies in the confusion of the family ties but also the very land that the Moolman¶s live on. Tilly. he had to father this child and eventually become the grandfather to a mixed-race child (Noah). Although they shared one name. a boy whose mother is the crazy child of the Moolmans. Although this novel tries to focus on the death of a child that was not wanted. This story is based on the death of a young boy. Tilly being the only surviving offspring that could reproduce for the Moolman lineage was a disgrace to Toorberg soil. Above all. the Moolmans. a land free of the skaamfamilie and the importance of the ancestors who once resided on this land cannot be ignored. one consisting of the accepted white Afrikaners and the other the skaamfamilie. falls victim of this harsh . this story has many complex and mysterious characters that all contribute to the overall struggle that being of mixed blood brings. the controversies related to this act emerge. even the investigator. enchantingly. especially in South Africa at the time. The beautiful mountains and farmland of Toorberg is a place of ³jealous soil´ and the land is ³mysterious earth. this family truly defines this mysterious place of jealous soil. With that being said. From legitimate to illegitimate relations. Each character. and land they did not share the same fate. The Moolmans were separated families. the fight for a family of no mixed blood. the tainted family. family of guilt. the mystery of each character emerges as the reader engages him or herself in the investigation of a young child¶s death and the family ties that link everything together. a burden that was the most terrible thing that could happen to Abel.
Joubert¶s interpretation of a South African black woman living under the pass laws is a clear description of life at this time for a person of color. Another way is by ignoring the fact that retold stories have missing pieces and understanding stories from the perspective of filtered personalities. protecting Abel and understanding that it was something he had to do in order to please not only himself. Just like the skaamfamilie in Toorberg. Poppie had to make many sacrifices and suffer a great deal of pain because of political unrest. The beautiful mountains of ³Jealous soil´ contained the struggles and mystery of a family that could never be. Although it seems as if Abel was the one who caused the death of Trickle.4 treatment and unfairness. it is clear to the reader that this woman was a heroine to not only her family. Not filtered personalities in the sense that important information is purposely dismissed but filtered in that they are stories being told by someone who did not personally experience it so some information is accidentally forgotten. the important thing to keep note of is the way in which people were separated and treated during this time in South Africa. but the country as well. Throughout the novel Poppie Nongena. Overcoming the complexities that the family ties in Ancestrial Voices brings is just one way in which one can gain access to the struggles occurring in South Africa during this time. She is a mother figure who fights to keep her family intact and protect her children. the entire family of Toorberg had to keep this a secret. Furthermore. Poppie struggles to keep a place . The death of Tilly¶s son. Understanding the mystery of these family ties is the first step to recognizing struggles during the Apartheid era. and the investigation all bring these struggles into perspective. but his ancestors that were ashamed of the impurity. Trickle du Pisani. The complex ties of stories and ancestors are confusing to keep up with however.
she managed to stay for ten years in the Cape. Just like their mother. She was not allowed to stay in the Cape Peninsula and was forced out and told to return to an area foreign to her. they have no control over the skin they were born into. Putting matters into perspective is only the first step. it was published after Poppie Nongena. An important thing to take note of is that the two stories presented are not consistent with the time they were released. This way or ordering was done for the purpose of understanding. By understanding on a larger. and the Cape. is what places . When one is able to recognize struggles through the eyes of a single individual. doing all she could to support her five children. Although branches have broken and leaves have fallen. Political complications did not cease throughout the story and Poppie was constantly faced with issues arising from eruptions in Soweto.5 to call home due to the laws being enforced and the denial she faced when trying to receive a work permit. she cannot protect her children forever. Because Poppie was such a strong person who fought for what she believed in. It becomes clear that due to her skin color. race and the time period. This insight. family scale one is able to put matters into perspective. there still stands a tree with many stories to be revealed. Poppie and her struggles. Full appreciation for those that are oppressed comes with comparisons made on the individual level. she does not win the war. Johannesburg. Although she fights the battle. Through the imagination of Joubert and translated stories of Poppie. more insight is gained. however. Poppie Nongena is a very powerful story that brings the reader into a world only the oppressed were able to experience at the time. they have no control over their destinies. South Africa during this time becomes a place the reader becomes well acquainted with. Although Ancestrial Voices was mentioned first.
and The Blue Door are also great representations of this time period however. Similarly. something the other novels mentioned do . The two novels that are explained in this essay are better sources to use when making this exploration because of the family ties and the individual struggles that they reveal. Comparisons made from a family perspective to an individual perspective instead of from time of release makes the struggles more compelling.6 the reader into this time period on a more personal level. and The Blue Door. The importance of Poppie in this essay is that she represents one individual and one struggle. it may be beneficial to use other sources. When exploring South Africa and this time period. Reading about struggles on a more personal level becomes a story more can relate to and it is easier to follow just one character. The Smell of Apples. Similarly. Thus. as mentioned before becoming conscious of struggles through the eyes of one individual gives you a personal appreciation for those that are oppressed. Looking on Darkness. understanding time periods can be more beneficial and impacting when going from big to small. Looking on Darkness. the reader may grasp a clear picture of the type of struggles that colored people had to face however. The Smell of Apples. Although it can be said that Ancestrial Voices does not necessarily represent a true family as well because of the turmoil on Toorberg. it is easy for the reader to see the overall struggle of race but not the personal accounts of hardship and pain. Although only two stories were mentioned throughout this essay. it is the kinship ties that they have that gives one a greater understanding of struggles that occur even within groups that share common ancestry. the characters and household do not represent a true family. there are other novels that should not be ignored. such as the novels: Seven Days at the Silbersteins. In Seven Days at the Silbersteins.
merit comparison because they combine to give one a greater understanding. Thus some stories exclude whole truths for the purpose of biased opinion. The combination of both stories and their ordering in this essay. Words are lost in translation and trying to . just because things are lost in translation or forgotten does not mean that they don¶t deserve your attention. These two novels. the importance of these novels when wanting to understand history is clear. also helps to enlighten those interested in South Africa.7 not entirely represent. both novels represent a true and personal account of the oppressed and their families. Joubert and Heerden give readers a clear understanding and appreciation for the oppressed during this time in history that should never be forgotten. Even though these are two completely different stories written ten years apart from one another. Understanding through the eyes of the struggling skaamfamilie and a helpless mother takes the reader to this time period. One must appreciate things for what they are and what they see or read. Poppie and the skaamfamilie made their struggles clear. It is true that complexities obscure the truth however. but these stories have made it easy for the reader to gain a sense of realism of the suffering that occurred in South Africa. Poppie Nongena and Ancestrial Voices share the same vision of struggles that resulted from the Apartheid era. Similar to the importance of their presentation in this essay. As mentioned before. Poppie Nongena and Ancestrial Voices. through the understanding of these complex ties and filtered perspectives comes greater understanding. Yes it is impossible to physically place yourself in this time however it is not impossible to mentally become a part of this history. With everything being said. not every story can be revealed with complete preciseness. from the family scale to the individual scale.
there are more novels that could have been discussed and elaborated on throughout this essay. . by doing this you will be able to gain a greater understanding of the Apartheid era in South Africa. What makes these novels and their stories of hardships through various personalities. it is important to appreciate the obscure and make comparisons. these novels and what they represent (a broken family and a struggling mother) work together to place the reader into this time in history. retold stories. Similarly.8 understand family ties causes confusion however. to enlighten yourself with a part of history that is often ignored is most important. As mentioned before. Finally. In other words. understanding history does not stop at analyzing two stories. and mysterious family ties important to discuss is the fact that they can easily be compared to one another for greater understanding.
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