The Bench

The Bench by Richard Rive tells the story of Karlie, a colored man in apartheid South Africa. Karlie decides to challenge the system after attending a lecture and seeing how different people interact with each other, and the words they speak showing the rights and equal nature of all human beings. I think that Rive gave a masterly illustration of how words can transform an individual. The words that Karlie heard through the lecture transformed him, and they made him realize that he was a human being. Rive made me think about the many times that people hear something and they seem concerned and interested in changing the situation, but they do not have enough courage to do so. Many people had attended the lecture, but the words did not seem to have the same impact on them as they did for Karlie. There were many people at the railway station, but other than the woman in the blue dress, no one else dared to defend Karlie. I like this reading because it encourages people to continue speaking against injustice. Even if something does not change immediately, the speaker will have sown a seed in somebody’s life through the words spoken, and this seed will transform into action.

Sunrise on the Veld

Doris Lessing tells the story of a boy who realizes the full meaning of life as he experiences suffering and death. The boy thinks that he can control everything, but he soon realizes that death is powerful in the sense that anything can die, and people do not have control over death. I like the way Lessing demonstrates the concepts of power and control in the book. She presents them in a simple manner, when he describes the boy’s ability to wake at the exact time he had trained for during the winter. It is relatively easy to identify with the situation because whenever people become interested in something, and they become adept at it, they tend to have more control over that thing. Lessing’s description of the boy’s encounter with the wounded buck is a convenient way of showing people of how a small issue can make them realize that they do not have power over everything, however powerful they think they are. This has given me the chance to reflect on those moments I feel that I am too powerful, and I have much control in life that something bad cannot happen to me. It has also made me realize the importance of accepting my limitations.

A Farewell to the Old Order

Similih Cordor tells of a man caught in a dilemma in the story Farewell to the Old Order. The man has to decide whether he should continue observing his tradition by keeping his two wives, or whether he should fall to the pressure he is facing in his job, of adopting a western lifestyle and getting a chance to get a job promotion. This story presents a foreign culture, but one that is on the verge of death in the midst of all the western ideas that people in that culture are adopting. I may not understand the culture, but I do understand the pressure that the man is going through. I do not like the way that the author has presented the women in the story. The people within that culture seem to be taking women like some form of property. The narrator even says that he acquired the women. I also fail to understand why the people do not seem to honor marriage, whether polygamous or otherwise. In the end, I think that the narrator does not make a wise decision. He abandons the two people who seem to love him most, and who have helped him get to the position he is in at the moment. The narrator acknowledges that were it not for his two wives, he would not have been able to accomplish as much as he had.

Works Cited

Cordor, M. Similih. “A Farewell to the Old Order.” Cultural Exchanges in Study and Work. 351-364. Print

Lessing Doris. “Sunrise on the Veld.” Departures, Journeys and Sometimes Returns. 471 478. Print

Rive Richard. “The Bench.” Defining Ourselves and Others. 567-571. Print


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