Wednesday, July 16, 2008

LOOKING FOR A RAIN GOD by BESSIE HEAD



Introduction:

It is a powerful and painful story. It paints a magnificent picture of the landscape of the rural Botswana. It displays a detailed picture of the people and their way of life, of the desperate plight that drought can force them into. Terrible events lead to tragic consequences.

Setting:

Rural Botswana, Africa where people basically farm off the bush land (1958)

Main Characters:

1) Mokgobja
2) Ramadi
3) Tiro
4) Nesta
5) Neo and Boseyong

Sequence / Summary of events:

1) The village faces 7-year drought
2) Villagers/Farmers suffer from starvation – hopes are raised when rain falls
3) Mokgobja and family are one of the few to rush out and plough the land
4) Complication and conflict set in when the rain stops after two weeks
5) The family are in despair waiting for the rain
6) Tiro and Nesta break down and become hysterical – the men also become affected by their wailing.
7) Mokgobja remembers an ancient rain- making ceremony whereby children are sacrificed to appease the Rain God
8) The two children, Neo and Boseyong, are sacrificed. Unfortunately, the rain still does not come.
9) The family is filled with sadness, guilt and fear when the rain does not come
10) Unable to bear the deathly silence, they return to the village
11) The villagers become suspicious over the disappearance of the two children.
12) Soon the police come and demand to seethe graves of the children
13) The mother, Tiro breaks down and confesses
14) The two men, Mokgobja and Ramadi , are sentenced to death
15) The rain still does not come

Character Analysis

1. Mokgobja

• 70 years old
• Hardworking farmer
• Believes in tradition
• Head of the family who decides to starts farming after the rainfall
• Maintains self-control
• Convinces the other in family to sacrifice the children

2. Ramadi

• Mokgobja ‘s son
• Farmer, supporter of his family
• Maintains self control as he believes that man has to be strong
• Become irrational – when the iron does not come and the women start wailing
• Agrees to father ‘s suggestion to sacrifice the children

3. Tiro (Ramadi’s wife) & Nesta (Tiro’s sister)

• Hardworking woman
• Good home- makers
• Strict
• Emotionally weak- when confronted with a long drought
• Break down- because of the depressing situation

4. Neo & Boseyong

• Innocent and cheerful
• Imitate the adult world when playing
• Victims of sacrifice to appease the Rain God

Themes

1. Man‘s survival against the force of nature

Farming entirely depends on nature (land, crops, animals and rain) for survival. When drought comes, farmers become totally helpless. Despite the human sacrifice, nature remains unkind as rain still does not come.

2. Hope and desperation

The villagers can only hope for the rain to come. The short period of the rainfalls shatters their dreams and they become desperate, to such an extent that they sacrifice own children. Driven by desperation and hope, these people lose their sense of humanity and rationality.

3. Nature’s law, Man‘s and Tribal Law

Nature‘s law is independent of man’s law. Man’s law consists of modern law and tribal law. The community represents modern law. Tribal law accepts human sacrifice – ritual killing of children, but modern law does not accept. Therefore, the men who commit the crime are sentenced to death.