Mine Boy

Mine Boy Summary and Analysis of Chapters 10 – 12


On the way to Leah’s to warn her about Dladla, Xuma wishes he loved Maisy, because Maisy makes him happy. But he loves Eliza. Maisy tells Xuma that Eliza must love him, since she went to his room the other night. Xuma asks if Maisy loves him too, and Maisy becomes upset and runs off down a side street. Xuma continues to Leah’s alone.

Xuma is surprised to see Leah dressed up in fancy clothes with new black leather shoes. Leah prances through the street, showing off her elegance by imitating the fashionable white ladies of Johannesburg. Daddy comes down the street and pretends to be a gentleman, miming that he is twirling a cane. The two dance around each other, delighting Xuma and the others watching. Leah announces there will be a party, and the neighbors go home to change.

Before Xuma can warn Leah, Eliza comes down the street and waves to Xuma. He can’t believe she is waving to him, but he rushes to her. She apologizes and says she is his woman; no matter what, she can’t deny it, she is his. She says she loves him, but she is bad, and when her badness comes out he will have to leave her alone and wait for her to be good again. Maisy comes out and, in an instant, she sees everything that has happened between Xuma and Eliza. She tells them food is ready.

After they eat Leah convinces Maisy to start the party by singing a happy song. The happiness returns to her face and voice as she does so. Ma Plank tells Leah she thinks Xuma is a fool for choosing Eliza, and Leah says a man has no choice who he loves. Leah is excited for the party, which is to celebrate her learning that Dladla is the traitor. She plans to deal with him in a few days’ time.

Leah finds Xuma and Eliza looking happy by the fire. She confirms with them that they are both in love with the other and offers to be a peacemaker for them should they have any trouble. She offers to give Eliza and Xuma everything in Eliza’s room for when they want to start their life together. Leah tells Xuma to go dance with Maisy. Eliza puts her head on Leah’s lap and holds her. Out back, Xuma finds Maisy shaking her head at all the men who want to dance with her, but she accepts Xuma’s offer. He tells her that Eliza loves him and that Maisy is a good friend. She says she is happy for him and that he must remember to go to work at midnight.

After dancing, Eliza and Xuma sit down and talk about how they will visit Xuma’s family up north one day. Eliza tells him about how she lost her parents when young, and how she developed her madness, which involved wanting to be white and hating herself for being black. She has difficulty describing the violent feelings and says it is the madness of the city within her. She checks the time and sees it is eleven, time for Xuma to go back to work. Xuma insists on one more dance, which she reluctantly obliges. They leave the party together and go to Xuma’s room, where Eliza touches every object and Xuma changes. They walk to the mine dumps and Xuma reflects on how things have changed since the night she took him there and she refused his kiss. She says she fears him more now that she loves him. He heads for the mine and she turns back to Malay Camp.

Chapter eleven opens with Xuma waking to the sound of birds and humming. After his shift at the mine, he went home to sleep. He is confused to discover that Eliza is cooking food and has lit a fire and tidied the room. Eliza teases him for being surprised: she knows he did not expect Eliza was the sort of woman who would work for him. She asks if he has ever been in love and Xuma says she is not the first woman he has been with, but she is the first he has loved. Eliza asks Xuma why he hasn’t asked her yet to move in. He does and she agrees that they will make the small single room a home, and eventually save up for two rooms.

While they have coffee and hold each other, Ma Plank arrives to tell them that Leah wants Xuma to come to her. Police found Dladla dead with a knife hole in his back under a bench by the colored school. At Leah’s, she demands to know who killed Dladla so that she will know how to act. No one in the room takes responsibility, and Leah says she does not think it was Johannes because she spoke to him that morning.

White police officers arrive in a car. After questioning Leah, the police decide to take her in. Xuma offers to go with her, but Leah tells him to stay and take care of the others. Eliza jumps at the policemen and Xuma holds her back. The police take her away and Ma Plank, Daddy, Maisy, and Eliza are grief-struck. However, she returns within a few hours and everyone celebrates, including the neighbors. Leah and Xuma remark to each other that they wonder who killed Dladla, and the narrator comments that the murderer was never discovered.

Chapter twelve begins five days later, when Xuma and Eliza are walking at dusk. In the past five days, life has been good for Xuma. He and Eliza have a routine where they spent as much time together as they can before his shift at the mine. Sometimes they go to Leah’s and eat food and help her sell beer. While Xuma is happy, Eliza is unhappy with the night shifts and asks when they will end. Xuma says after two more weeks.

Xuma and Eliza’s neighbor tells them that Ma Plank came by asking that they go straight to Leah’s. At Leah’s they learn Daddy has been hit by a car. He is lying in Leah’s bed. Doctor Mini is there; he announces that Daddy has internal injuries that will kill him. Everyone gathers and consoles each other as Daddy dies before them in Leah’s bed.

Xuma leaves for work and returns in the morning to find Leah in the same state of grief, holding the empty shell that Daddy’s body has become. Everyone on the street has come out to help with the funeral, which they conduct that day, burying Daddy at the native cemetery on the hill beyond Vrededorp. That night Leah gets drunker than Xuma has ever seen her. In time she grows tired of the mourners’ sadness and insists on dancing. Shortly after Xuma carries Leah to her bed and Maisy bathes her head with a wet cloth.

Xuma goes walking, full of anger at Eliza for having left, and confused over Daddy’s death and all the strangeness that accompanied his life. Eliza catches up with him, and in her presence, his anger melts. She says they must be happy tonight. Eliza leads him out of Malay Camp to the dark hills of the outskirts. On top of a hill she shows him a view that shows how small and lacking in lights Malay Camp is compared to Johannesburg. Xuma reflects on how big Malay camp had seemed when he arrived, and how he’d been lost. Now it seemed so small. Eliza asks him not to go to work tonight, but Xuma insists he must. She concedes, but asks that they make love there on the hill first. Xuma obliges.


In the tenth chapter, Eliza surprises Xuma by admitting that she belongs with him, and it seems as if Eliza has overcome her assimilationist aversion to Xuma and accepted her overwhelming desire. That she speaks of her assimilationist ideals and self-loathing of her own blackness as her “badness” stands as a testament to how deeply ingrained racist and colonial ideas of good and bad have infiltrated her mind. Eliza speaks of her assimilationist ideals as an evil of which she cannot rid herself.

The theme of kindness arises when Leah gives Eliza and Xuma her blessing for their union. Leah also understands the importance of Xuma reconciling with Maisy, who has been good to Xuma despite his clear interest in Eliza.

Xuma’s surprise at his good fortune and Eliza’s turnaround continues into the eleventh chapter when he wakes to find her cooking for him and asking to move in. The change in Eliza’s attitude is stark and the situation almost dreamlike in terms of how satisfied her requited love makes Xuma. The buoyant mood is deflated with Leah’s arrest—a reminder of the danger and drama in which Eliza and Xuma are still entangled.

However, Leah is released the same night and the couple enter another period of happiness, undercut only by the occasion of Daddy’s death by a hit and run. It is likely the car was driven by a rich white person, given the economic barriers of car ownership in South Africa at the time. Daddy’s death throws Leah into a depressive episode, and Xuma is shocked by how Eliza abandons her in her grief.

The entire incident turns Xuma introspective: he cannot make sense of the layers of economic and racial injustice that precipitated Daddy’s alcoholism and decline and death, and so he thinks of it all as strangeness. Compounding his confusion is Eliza’s lack of care for a woman who had shown her so much kindness. The situation foreshadows Eliza’s coming abandonment of Xuma.