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The Underlying Theme of Violence in Mpe’s Novel

One of the underlying themes of Mpe’s novel is that of urban violence. The acts of violence are pervasive throughout the book. Much like the film Tsotsi, crime and violence are prevalent, but not particularly discussed or explored in any contextualized way; it just exists. For the novice reader coming to this literature for the very first time, it is important to understand the history of violence in South Africa and how it was used as a major tool to oppress and subjugate a people. That history and culture of violence has manifested itself in numerous ways in contemporary post-apartheid South Africa.  For Mpe, violence manifests itself through the crime occurring in Hillbrow. The author explores the tragedies of his young characters as the young people are crushed and devoured by the city. So, much of what Mpe writes is surely not fiction. The notion of the militarization of the city, the economic cleavages, and the poor living in desperate poverty — all are a representation of both a city and neighborhood in a post-apartheid society.


Posted by Maria Iordanov on

It is sad to see that violence is still prevalent in South Africa. This reminds me in some ways of the violence in many of America’s cities

Posted by Malaika Bergner on

I imagine that the people in Hillbrow know nothing other than their everyday violence. These people probably don’t think their is any way out, and this may be true, it may be unchangeable.

Posted by Ben Tarpey on

When reading this blog, I saw many of the same things in the U.S. It says that crime and violence are prevalent but not discussed, it just exists and I think that same thing exists in the U.S. There has been so much violence and it’s hard to see progress so we have gotten used to it – it’s just a regular day thing. Also, at the end of the blog it talks about how a bunch of these negative things about South Africa are all a representation of the cities there. I see this in Chicago because there is so much violence in Chicago that when someone brings up our city, people tend to think about the violence and gangs.

Posted by Ben Tarpey on

This blog describes many things that are currently happening in Chicago. It says that the crime and violence are prevalent in South Africa so they just exist – and that is the same in Chicago. There are so many problems with gun violence and there has been little progress so it is just seen as regular day occurrences and we just accept it. These negative things also determine the representations of our cities.

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