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In the book Kaffir Boy, Johannes (also known as Mark) Mathabane is the eldest of seven children. When the story begins, he is five years old, and only two of his siblings, Florah and George, are born yet. The arrival of the fourth child, Maria, is confusing to Johannes, who cannot understand why his mother keeps looking fatter when the family has no food to eat. By the time the youngest three, Merriam, Dinah, and Linah, are born, Johannes knows what is happening. He sometimes resents his new siblings because they are a drain on his family's scant resources.
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