Character Analysis Of The Suit By Can Themba

1079 Words 5 Pages
The Suit is a short story, based on the topic of adultery in the Apartheid era. Philemon is introduced as an adoring husband, who brings his wife breakfast in bed. The story is largely focused on Philemon’s interpretation, yet we are told that his wife, Matilda, appreciated her husband’s kindness. (Page 117) In Can Themba’s short story, there are diverging forms and developments of power relations. This is evident in Philemon’s reaction to his wife’s betrayal as well as the reason for his actions, which could be acknowledged as double consciousness.
The seemingly happily married couple reside in a shack in Sophiatown, Johannesburg. On his way home, Philemon is told that his wife, Matilda, is having an affair. He returns home to Matilda in the embrace
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Due to the patriarchal structure of the society, Philemon possessed a certain authority over his wife, thus his behaviour could be politically motivated. Matilda’s infidelity is interpreted as her directly opposing his authority and patriarchal standards. Initially, traces of Philemon’s Western ideals are evident such as honouring his wife by doing various household chores. However, as the story progressed, white identity imposed upon him by those of supremacy gradually dominates his character. Aware of his inability to remain in control as a supreme power publicly, he attempts to do so domestically. In The Suit male domination or gender power is also an effective form of power relations. Philemon lost a sense of control in his private life, leaving him less empowered. His monotonous lifestyle is indicative of his constant desire to be in control of his life. He explicitly exploits his power when he imposes new chores upon his wife and threatens to kill her if she fails to fulfil them which surpass a logical extent of

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