(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

After Karlie has lived all of his life in a remote rural part of South Africa, this is his first visit to Cape Town, a bustling metropolis in which all sorts of people rub shoulders. More obviously than in his more segregated home town, Cape Town shows the tensions that result from the rigid system of separation of races known as apartheid. Karlie sees people of all colors—some black, some white, and others mixed.

As the story opens, Karlie is standing in a large crowd that is listening to a black speaker who is proclaiming the rights of black majority, the working class to whom he refers as the proletariat. Karlie is impressed by what the speaker is saying because it seems to be the first time that he has even considered the possibility that blacks do, in fact, have any rights at all. He notices that two white detectives are taking notes on everything that is being said at the meeting.

As Karlie listens, he recalls the advice he received from elders in his own community. Ou Klaas, for example, taught him that God created blacks and whites separately, and therefore they should continue to live separately.

On the platform with the speaker is a white woman in a blue dress and Nxeli, whom Karlie recognizes as a famous trade-union organizer. As he watches, the white woman gets up and begins speaking. She encourages the black crowd to refuse to play by the rules imposed by the whites: Blacks, she says, should sit wherever they please,...

(The entire section is 540 words.)