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Material 2
$\;$
The gun by Beverly Naidoo
Esi and his parents are faithful and valued employees at the Mackay game farm[1] at the time of the South African Apartheid regime. When their boss Mackay has to leave one day, he asks his future son-in-law Williams to take charge until Mackay’s return.
Early the following afternoon, there was the familiar sound of Mackay’s Land Rover entering the camp. Esi saw immediately that it was being driven by the young man Williams – and he was alone. When he jumped down from the driver’s seat, he was carrying Mackay’s gun. Although he could only be a few years older than Esi, there was something in his manner that reminded Esi of the sneering[2] officer in the Mapoteng[3]
5
attack. His bush-green eyes narrowed on their target.
“What’re you staring at? You’ve seen me before, haven’t you? Go get your boss-boy[4] for me. Be quick about it, jong[5]!”
Esi could feel his face going hot, but he turned rapidly and sprinted off. Even Mackay never spoke to him like that, always calling him by his name.
10
Esi accompanied his father as he walked forward to greet the white man. He wanted to see how Papa would react.
“You remember me? … Boss Williams. Boss Mackay has asked me to come and look after his place, so we better get on, you and me. I don’t want any trouble from the other boys either, OK?” He turned to Esi.
“You can get my bags out the back and carry them to my room.” Papa simply gave a little nod. It was
15
impossible to tell what he was thinking. His lined face remained quite passive as father and son carried the young white man’s cases.
Before long it was clear that Williams assumed Esi to be his personal servant. Up till now Esi had taken instructions either from his father or Mackay, who had known him since he was little. But this man’s manner was different. He didn’t seem to care at all who Esi was. It was as if he was just a thing to be used.
20
Much of the time Williams would sit on the veranda outside Mackay’s room, legs stretched out on a stool, a can of beer at his side, while cleaning or playing with Mackay’s gun.
“Hey, come clean my boots!”
“You can wash the truck now!”
“Make my bed properly, jong! Don’t just pull the sheets up like that!”
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“Do you call these boots clean? If you were in the army I’d donder[6] you! Do them again!”
“Go call the girl! I want her to do my washing this morning.”
At the last order, Esi had to fight to control himself. Who did this man think he was? Didn’t he know that “the girl” was Esi’s own mother, old enough to be the white man’s mother? When Esi found her, busy collecting wild spinach, his anger spilled out.
30
She tried to calm him. His temper would get him into trouble. He should try to be like his father.
“Papa just lets them push him around. I don’t want to be like that!”
“Ha! What else can you do my young man?”
And with that his mother began walking slowly, steadily, toward the camp to collect the dirty washing.

[1] game farm: a farm with wild animals
[2] sneering: unpleasant, arrogant
[3] Mapoteng: a South African village
[4] boss-boy: insulting expression for an adult man who is in charge of something
[5] jong: expression from Afrikaans meaning ‘boy’
[6] donder: expression from Afrikaans meaning ‘hit’ or ‘bully’
  • Read the tasks carefully.
  • Make sure to write about all the aspects presented in each task.
  • Read the tasks carefully.
  • Make sure to write about all the aspects presented in each task.
1.
Describe Williams’ behaviour towards Esi and his parents and how it compares to that of Boss Mackay.
2.
Explain how Williams’ behaviour is reflected in the language he uses and the reaction it causes in Esi.
3.
You have a choice here. Choose one of the following tasks.
a)
Esi’s mother tolerates Williams’ behaviour and states: “What else can you do?” Comment on this statement and remember that this story is set during the Apartheid regime.
or
b)
Esi cannot accept his mother’s attitude. When Williams calls Esi again and bosses him around, Esi cannot control himself any longer. Write down how the story goes on. Include the following aspects:
  • Esi’s reaction
  • Williams’ reaction
  • the consequences for everybody
#writing
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$\blacktriangleright$  1. Description of Williams' behaviour
Williams sees Esi and his parents as slaves, whereas Mackay treats them as his workers. Williams is also unfriendly, he doesn't greet Esi but just demands for his father whom he also offends by calling him „boss-boy“. He also doesn't call Esi by his name but by the Afrikaans „term“. Mackay would always call Esi by his name. Williams also treats Esi's father as if he were dumb. Furthermore, Williams treats Esi as his personal servant and tells him to get his bags. Esi ist just considered a thing to Williams, whereas Mackay had known Esi since he was little and would never treat him that way. In addition, Williams orders Esi to do things that Esi normally doesn't do like cleaning his boots. What Esi cannot tolerate is that Williams calls his mother „the girl “ which Esi considers as very disrespectful.
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Explanation of how Williams' behaviour is reflected in the language
Williams does not use any friendly words or greetings towards Esi. When he arrives, he immediately asks why Esi is staring at him as if he had never seen him before. He also calls Esi's father „boss-boy“ and Esi himselff a „jong“. Esi is angry about that since no one has ever takled to him like that before. Williams talks to Esi and his father as if they were dumb also - Esi wants to see how his father reacts towards that and is rather shocked when he notices that his father just accepts the unfriendly comments made by Williams. Esi believes that he is thus treated like a thing and not a person. When Williams orders Esi around and criticizes him for doing his job (cleaning his boots, making his bed properly), Williams also unjustifiedly threatens Esi by telling him that he would hit him if he were in the army. Esi has to fight to control himself when Williams calls his mother „the girl “.
$\blacktriangleright$  3. Comment on the statement
Esi's mother tolerates the fact that she is being pushed around by Williams. She even tells her son that there is nothing that he could do about that - otherwise he would get in serious trouble. Strictly speaking, her behaviour is just right, considering the fact that the story is set during the Apartheid regime. You could get in jail or worse if you were black and if you rebelled against that regime. Esi's mother knows that and she also knows her role. Her role is to obey her boss - whether it be Mackay or Williams doesn't matter at this point. She knows that if she refused to do the dirty laundry, Williams will tell his father and most likely, Mackay will punish her for not obeying. She does not want this - and also, she is being treated relatively nicely by Mackay. It could be far worse and thus, she simply accepts that Williams is bossing her around for one day. She also desn't want Esi to be punished for something which is why she tries to calm him down.
However, it is not always right to keep one's mouth shut and to simply accept how one is treated by another. If everyone would act this way, we would still live in Apartheid or slavery would have never been abolished. Hence, it is important to not tolerate everything and to sometimes rebel against the systems - otherwise, nothing will ever change.
$\blacktriangleright$  4. Write the story's ending
"Jong, you better get those shoes properly cleaned! They are still really dirty! What do you think? Have you never cleaned shoes before? What use are you actually???"
Esi could not control himself any longer. What did this stupid man think? Those shoes were properly cleaned and Williams just wanted Esi to feel that he was something better than him. No one would talk to him that way - especially since Williams also had insulted his mother. Something Esi could not tolerate or accept or deal with. Esi darted towards Williams, pushing him.
"Who do you think you are? You treat people as if they were your property. As if you were something better - and let me tell you, you are not! Did your parents not educate you properly? I believe they have, because Mr. Mackay is nice to us and you are not. Your father didn't teach you that!"
"I can't believe it. You dare to tell me things like that? You know I am your master and you must do as I say! And you touched me!!! Don't you know you are not supposed to touch me? And you even pushed me which is even worse! This will have consequences! I will speak to my father!"
When Williams told Mackay about what happened, Mackay looked at both Williams and Esi. He clearly couldn't decide what to think or what to do. "Esi, you know you cannot push other people - this is the rule and it is strictly forbidden for anyone, including me and my son. However, I understand that my son has treated you unfairly, which is also against our rules. We always treat each other well and respectful. Williams, you deceived me, you are my son and I taught you differently. You should know better than to make other people obey you. I will never ask you to watch the game farm when I am gone again since you acted as if you wouldn't know how to do that. Esi, I cannot let you go unpunished. You will have to the chores that no one else wants to do for two weeks - feeding the pigs."
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