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"Dreams and Fantasies....Part of Reality" - Na7as

The Toilet

  • Date Submitted: 12/06/2012 02:54 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 65.5 
  • Words: 544
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SHORT STORY ANALYSIS QUESTIONS – “The Toilet” by Gcina Mhlope

1. What is the main element in the story?   (plot, theme, characters, setting, etc..)

This story is theme-driven.   The idea (i.e the value statement) that things should be a particular way (and not the way they are) and it is this idea drives the thoughts and behaviour of the main character, the narrator.   The reader is allowed to witness the passion, courage and resilience of a female African artist (in this case, a writer) who struggles to overcome multiple barriers (her gender, “race” and economic class) in her attempt at artistic expression.


2. What sort of conflict confronts the main character(s) (internal or external)?   Explain.

The narrator experiences external conflict.   The demands of the rest of the world force the narrator to modify her behaviour.   (e.g   She has to keep quiet and be silent, when all she wants to do is sing and express herself.)
The narrator experiences internal conflict.   The world forces her to be a consumer of thoughts, whereas she wants to be a creator and expresser of thought.   (e.g She gets bored of reading the magazines and longs to write.)


3. How does the author handle characterisation (description, conversation, actions)?

The author does not provide any physical description of the narrator or her sister.   Indeed, the reader is only told their respective names a while into the story.   Mhlope forces the reader to form an opinion of these two characters unencumbered by distracting detail.   The reader’s opinion of these two characters is thus inevitably formed by their responses (intellectual and behavioural) to the demands, constraints and restrictions of the social, political and economic reality in which they find themselves.


4. What is the time setting for the action?   Period of history?   Season?   Time of day?   How much time does the story cover?

The story is set in apartheid-era South Africa, and its duration is most likely a few weeks,...

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