Fools and Other Stories
Testing the Fools: Society and Maturity in Ndebele's Fiction College
Written in 1983, Njabulo Ndebele’s “Fools & Other Stories” deals with the experiences of ordinary people living under the apartheid regime. The author subtly comments on the political environment of the 1980s through the lives of average black citizens whom the apartheid system affects. Ndebele’s work can be described as literature of the victim or powerless as it is written as an appeal to the oppressor’s conscience and aims to make them aware of the forgotten lives of the ordinary. It can be argued that “The Test” is about the contest of boyhood suffering whereas “Fools” is about an adult’s realization of personal restrictions in a broader social context, yet the accuracy of these claims requires further examination.
Although “The Test” is written in third person, the story is told through Thoba’s perspective. A young boy from a privileged family, Thoba has a deep desire to experience the hardships his contemporaries undergo. Ndebele writes that “Thoba envied these boys” (p. 7) and that “… Thoba yearned to have cracked feet too” (p. 4) just like Nana’s. By using the word ‘yearned’, Ndebele suggests that this character has a strong emotional longing for this suffering. Because Thoba comes from an advantaged family, he come...
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