Racism In A Walk In The Night

1872 Words 8 Pages
Often a person can be conditioned to do a certain behavior, either by their own actions or influences from others, sometimes without realizing it. In two different novels that share a similar theme of racism, A Walk in The Night by Alex La Guma, and Maru by Bessie Head, the act of conditioning is explored. A Walk in The Night follows many different characters throughout the novel but mostly centers around the actions of Michael Adonis. Michael is a person of color in a coastal city of South Africa at a time when racial tensions are especially high. He has an often describe pustule of rage specifically against white people, which builds until he kills his white neighbor in a fit of rage. This sets off a cascade of consequences for everyone involved …show more content…
Her mother died while giving birth, and thus is adopted by a woman from a missionary. This woman decides that this girl’s race will no longer be oppressed and that it will Margret’s destiny to change it. From early on Margret is taught that race isn’t important: “A big hole was there because, unlike other children, she was never able to say ‘I am this or that. My parents are this or that” (Head 9). For Margret, people aren’t categorized by their race, the words to characterize herself or parents aren’t in her vocabulary. In other words, she does not know that other people perceive her as different. She is only aware of what the people’s actions. This is a big first step to bring change and being conditioned to help her people. Without the knowledge of race, she won’t be as affected by the racism and will be able to overcome such obstacles more easily. Margaret is only conditioned in a more direct way. Her adoptive guardian, also by the name Margaret, tells her that she will help her people: “There was nothing she could ask for, only take what was given, aware that she was there for a special purpose because now and then the woman would say: ‘One day, you will help your people.’ It was never said as though it were a big issue, but at the same time it created a purpose and burden in the child’s mind” (Head 10). Being told something like consistently breeds a drive to want to do that, …show more content…
Some knowing and some unknowing. Michael’s consequence of this conditioning is clear, he killed another human. A more indirect consequence is that he also got one of his better friends killed as well. Michael didn’t want to take the blame for his mistake and Willieboy gets himself inadvertently caught up in it. While searching for Michael, he finds Uncle Doughty dead, but does not tell anyone even when see by others walking out of the apartment building. This leads to him being subject number one and a racist cop takes it upon himself to clean up the streets by hunting down Williboy and killing him in cold blood. This can be attributed to Michael because without his thoughts conditioning his behavior, he never kills Doughty and Willieboy is still alive. His conditioning killed to people that night. Margret has good and bad consequences. Her rougher of the consequences starts with her emotions. Bottling them up and acting like everything is okay can be bad like seen with Michael. Her bottled up emotions also nearly killed someone, this time a student: “I kept on thinking: How am I going to explain her death? I thought I had killed a little girl in the front desk who was laughing, because I clearly saw myself grab her and break her neck with a stick. It was only when you started shouting that I realized I was still standing behind the table (she says to Dikeledi) … “I saw the little girl too. She put her hand

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