Boesman and Lena Questions and Answers
by Athol Fugard

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Boesman’s memory of traumatic events is sharpened by his drinking. Identify and briefly discuss at least three events that he remembers from the past and that clearly traumatized him in Boesman and Lena.

Three events that Boesman remembers from the past and that clearly traumatized in Boesman and Lena are the bulldozing of his and Lena’s shack by the authorities, the tragedy of their stillborn children, and his being sent to prison.

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All of these traumatic events are in some way related to Boesman’s experience as a mixed-race man in apartheid-era South Africa. He and Lena have been bulldozed out of their home under racist legislation that sought to reserve prime tracts of land for the ruling White minority.

Official racism is undoubtedly responsible in some way for the miscarriages and stillbirths that Lena has experienced, as neither she nor Boesman are able to access proper healthcare on account of their race.

And Boesman’s past is a further source of trauma in that it conjures up memories of his going to prison for committing violent crimes. It is no wonder that Boesman is forever telling Lena that she should be concerned with the present, not with the past.

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