The Suit By Can Themba How Would I Describe The Character Of Philemon And What Support For This Did I Find?

1716 words - 7 pages

Philemon's character changes throughout the story. Can Themba takes us on a journey to see why he transforms. At first Philemon is a devoted husband. And then as a hard working man and a fine friend. The news of his wife's adultery makes him become a detached, controlling and rancorous husband. He turns into a cruel man, taking pleasure in humiliating his wife. Philemon's actions cause his own remorse and pain. We note that the language in the story and Philemon's actions are related to religion, which can be linked to the common belief that Lucifer was an angel cast out of heaven because he wanted to take over heaven or the throne of God.

At the beginning of the story there are warnings that all is not as it seems. (80) A word such as frown and persitalsis sets a tone to the story. Philemon describes his wife as a 'sleeping serenity,' and a 'mututinal miracle.' (80) Philemon is happy 'grinned.' (80) He smiles at the 'odd caprice of the heavens,' not aware that an odd caprice will soon befall him. (80) He embraces his, 'mood of contentment' (81), erroneous outlook. He has a superior view of himself, 'supremest immaculacy,' and of his life. (82) He believes his wife is in absolute awe of him, 'comes out of ether to behold him.' (82) Philemon's descriptions of himself and his wife are narsisstic. In a life filled with poverty, overcrowding and inadequate facilities Philemon has altered his perception so that it accords with his desired world. Men were superior to women, but Philemon helped his wife with chores. The happiness in the beginning of the story contrasts the sadness to come. His seemingly harmless ritual shows he likes to have his life ordered and controlled. He believes his wife is like him, 'lunch tin solicitously prepared the night before...' (82).

Then we see another side of Philemon's character, as a hard working man and good friend. For Maphikela has the courage to tell Philemon of his wife's adultery. Philemon does notices a change in Maphikela's attitude, yet he did not notice a change in his wife? There are none as blind as those who do not wish to see. At this stage Philemon is still compassionate and encourages confidence, '... you can talk to me about anything,' (84). From Maphikela's reluctance to tell Philemon, we expect a hurt and angry response. We share Maphikela's compassion.

Philemon's character undergoes a drastic change after he hears the news. He rapidly experiences a series of powerful negative emotions, 'menacing electrical flashes were leaping from coil to coil.' (84). He does not doubt the validity of the claim. Did Philemon subconsciously know his world was illusion? He 'breaks down.' The bus ride symbolises the emotions Philemon experiences in his transformation. (85) The 'soiled laundry' symbolizes the secret that has been...

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