In Andre Brink’s A Dry White Season, Benjamin Du Toit’s quest to discover what really happened to Gordon Ngubene produced different responses in his children. What are examples that show the contrast between the response of his daughter Suzette to that of his son Johan? Though the Soweto Riots were the backdrop for both the book and the film A Dry White Season, they remained in the background of the novel but were moved to the foreground in the film. What are examples of how Euzhan Palcy used her film to bring attention to that history?

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Suzette and Johan
Suzette, being older and more involved in the world, takes her father's actions very poorly. She feels he is humiliating them all and making himself look foolish, perhaps even endangering himself with the law. Johan, being younger, still at home with his father (with whom he's very close) and still engrossed in schoolboy athletics and games, takes his father's side, telling him that he doesn't want him to stop trying to find out about Gordon and Jonathan.

An example of these dynamics occurs after Gordon is sentenced and executed. The newspaper ran a photograph of Ben embracing Gordon's grieving wife. Their society was shocked by the picture of a white man embracing and giving comfort to a black woman. Suzette calls and roundly reprimands her father, accusing him of not thinking about the repercussions his actions might have for her and his other two children: "Did you spare one single thought for the repercussions this may have for your children?"

In the same situation, when Susan is subtly but "sharply" reprimanding Ben for being at odds with Suzette over his behavior, Johan interrupts by unexpectedly berating his mother and standing up for his father: "Can't you leave Dad alone? ... what's he done wrong? Suppose something had happened to him--wouldn't you have been upset too?" Earlier, when Johan learns Ben went to the police to find out about Gordon and Jonathan, Johan is described as agreeing to keep the event secret from Susan; he is said to have a "conspiratorial smile" for his father. On another occasion, Johan tells his dad not to stop looking for the truth.

Film Version: Soweto Youth Uprising
Euzhan Palcy films the movie adaptation with the Soweto Youth Uprising (or Soweto Riots) as a backdrop to Ben's, Gordon's, and Jonathan's story. One way Palcy uses her film to draw attention to the history of the uprising is to show the start of the students' demonstration. The school children are shown in neat school uniforms--with blazers and Windsor-knotted school ties--gathering in the streets (in reality, not all the students were dressed in neat uniforms, nor were they all young). They are carrying banners made of old sheets (as they did in real life). The camera moves to longer and longer shots, showing in bird's-eye-view the convergence of three separate groups pouring from three arteries into one main street.

The leader of one of the groups had moments before been heard declaring, "This is a peaceful demonstration. We know the police brutality. But be calm, be cool. Remember this is a protest march. We are not here to fight the police." As the students flood down the street, they are headed off and brought to an abrupt stop by the state police, who command them through a bullhorn to "disperse immediately." When they hold their ground, the state police then open fire on the students, whose hopeful banners and signs read "Education for all regardless of race." By making the Soweto Youth Uprising an integrated part of the setting of Ben's, Gordon's, and Jonathan's stories, Palcy brings attention to that history.

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