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The Issues Of Women Characters In Miriam Tlali's.

2403 words - 10 pages

The Issues of Women Characters in Miriam Tlali'sMuriel at MetropolitanA South Africa writer, Pamala Ryan, provides an interesting analysis of Miriam Tlali's Muriel at Metropolitan by arguing that: "[...] black women do not have time to dream" (95). The lives of black women are besieged with restraints and conflicts. Black women in South Africa do not have the "complete peace inside" (Ryan 95); they strive against racial discrimination and injustice to claim their freedom. The struggle gives black women the consciousness of self and the consciousness of a black society. Tlali's novel Muriel at Metropolitan is about the relationship between struggle and change, and the pain of black women's lives. In the novel, the struggles that the main character, Muriel, undertakes are against racism and social classes; her fight to claim her freedom of voice leads to Muriel's self-growth.The main element that Muriel fights against is racism. "Racism is the only evil that affects black women" (Christian, Concept 80). Clearly, racial discrimination is in the system of societal and psychological restrictions that have critically affected the lives of South African women. A scholar, Barbara Christian, argues that because of racism and social restrictions, black women lost their womanly nature.Because black women were, by nature of their race, conceived of as lower class, they could hardly approximate the norm of womanhood. They had to work; most could not be ornamental or withdrawn from the world; and, according to the aesthetics of [South Africa], they were not beautiful. [...] Any aggressiveness or intelligence on their part, qualities necessary for participation in the work world, were construed as unwomanly and tasteless. On one hand, they could not achieve the standard of womanhood; on the other hand, they were biologically females, with all the societal restrictions associated with that state. (Christian, Concept 72)In fact, Muriel, as a women character, does not have an attractive figure. She is overwhelmed by heavy office duty which destroys her womanly beauty. Muriel is distinguished from the ideal white woman. She is black in colour, educated, intelligent, responsible, kind, and above all silent. She relates to the world through her job as a clerk and typist who deals with black or white customers. In contrast with Muriel, the white employees around her are frail, indolent, fussy, and incapable of doing hard work. Because of the difference in skin colour, Muriel is treated as mere object rather than a human being. "All people with black faces [are] objects you may amuse yourself with"(Tlali 111). Therefore, she is "conceived of as lower class" and experiences personal insult in many areas. Firstly, she is not allowed to use the same washroom as other white employees. Secondly, the whites suspect her of cheating because she tells the customer the truth of interest. Moreover, she is asked to serve whites as a "slave." Since black people are considered to be...

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