Discuss the idea that poverty is the mother of crime with reference to A Walk in the Night.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is much in La Guma's work to concur with the statement.  The fundamental condition of apartheid in South Africa reduces people of color to the condition of having to turn to crime in order to eke out an existence.  Apartheid is depicted as a reality that relegates its victims to the peripheral of society.  Crime becomes the way that individuals in this setting survive and meet the demands of one day to the next.  Consider's Doughty's assertion that individuals living in the world of apartheid are "ghosts, doomed to walk the night."  In this setting, there is little else but crime where validation can be received.  Michael ends up moving to a life of crime because his experiences in "traditional" and "normative" society are filled with harassment, insults, and a lack of support.  Willieboy's exploits in criminal behavior is to simply support a habit of drinking that helps him to endure a life where existence is marginalized and silenced.  It is difficult to believe that these characters would embrace criminal life if there were worthwhile and significant opportunities being presented to them in a setting that actually displayed respect and understanding for who they are as human beings.  The need caused by poverty and the conditions caused by a lack of opportunity are what motivate crime in this Apartheid setting.

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