The Bench

1141 words 5 pages
The Bench
Through history of human life, it is often displayed how the black people have been oppressed several times. The apartheid system was no exception. Between 1948 and 1994 South Africa was based on racial segregation which basically meant that blacks were denied their rights that are theirs by birth. Richard Rive, a black man living in South Africa under apartheid, wrote in 1963 a short story called “The Bench” which is about a young boy challenging the superior white people, in his own way.
The short story deals with a 3rd person limited omniscient narrator. By doing so it makes us as readers connect with the victim, who is Karlie.
Karlie is from a village in the country-side of South Africa, but the story takes place in Cape
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29-30 p. 32) fills his head.
When he enters the railways station on his way home, the story takes a sharp turn; he sees his way of challenging. Though whites and blacks walk among each other without the sense of difference between them, it seems wrong to have a normal railway bench saying “Europeans Only” in the middle of it all. His decision of sitting on a white man’s bench is where it all escalates. He hasn’t had a seat for long before he is approached by, first a white elderly woman, and next an angry white man. It does not take long before another great crowd is assembled with supporters of both sites of the “fight”. As Karlie is sitting on the bench he is, for a moment, unaware of the situation right in front of him. He can’t decide whether his is sitting on the bench because he wants to challenge or if he is just too tired to continue. Despite that it seems as if he is quite proud of his decision. Karlie has seen in the newpapers how blacks who were under arrest where smiling as they were sent to prison, smiling because they have won their fight. So is Karlie as he is taken away by the policeman, and for the very first time that episode he speaks out loud “”Certainly!” said Karlie for the first time. And he stared at the policeman with all the arrogance of one who dared sit on a “European bench”.” (l. 1-3 p.38) He is clearly satisfied with his own action, but before it came that long he went through a lot of thinking, while sitting on the bench.

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