The Symbolic Deviation of Rural Women Characters in Lauretta Ngcobo's Novel: And They Didn't Die.
Njeru, Faith Wambogo
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This study examines how Ngcobo in the novel And They Didn't Die (1999) depicts the rural women characters' digression from what was considered to be the norm. From our research, we found the `normalcy' to be the oppressive forces that impinge on the women's liberty. The forces include: the hostile climate, patriarchy and apartheid. The artistic portrayal of these forces through the use of symbolism was analysed. The research found that the perceived normalcy is entrapping. Hence we have investigated how the rural women characters stretch their boundaries of social conventions in which they are confined. The assumption is that when entrapped, women can defy and act in defence of what they perceive to be their rights. In our supposition, we concur with Wieringa (1995) that women have been subverting the codes that undermine the spaces in which they move in more creative and Machiavellian ways. The study employs four strands of feminist theory: the social eco-feminist, radical feminist, Marxist Feminist and African Feminist Theories. In engaging the social eco-feminist theory, the study portrays the relationship between the exploitation of women and that of nature. We also demonstrate the author's use of symbols, some of which are related to nature and to some extent they are a backup in highlighting the characters and the conflicts in the story. This makes the weaving of the text as clear as possible. In so doing, the study divulges the crucial role of symbols in portraying their totality in the work of art. The use of radical feminist theory helped in interpreting patriarchy as illustrated by apartheid and African culture. The Marxist Feminist perspective helped in analyzing the capitalistic nature of apartheid and highlighted how the women characters subverted the system's schemes. The African feminist perspective creates a fair gender rapport between females and males and attempts to appraise literature by using African's aesthetic standards, worldview and experience. Apart from examining the deviation of rural women characters from the perceived norms of apartheid, patriarchy and environment, the study finally appraised the women's endevours in over coming the challenges.