A Question of Power by South African author Bessie Head follows the story of the protagonist Elizabeth, who is modeled after Head's real-life experiences. Elizabeth grew up in South Africa as the offspring of an illegal relationship between a black man and a white woman. She was born in a mental hospital in South Africa, and her mother committed suicide following her birth. The reader is led to believe that Elizabeth grows up with mental health issues of her own, because her mother presumably had them as well. Of course, growing up as a mixed-race individual in apartheid South Africa is also seen as a contributing factor in Elizabeth's worrisome mental state.
As an adult, Elizabeth escapes both South African apartheid and her husband by taking her son and traveling to neighboring Botswana. However, after arriving in Botswana, Elizabeth begins to show signs of mental illness. She has hallucinations, including two men named Sello and Dan who are manifestations of real people from her village in Botswana. Elizabeth struggles to maintain her hold on reality and considers her inner battle between good and evil. After losing control of her actions on multiple occasions, Elizabeth has two stints in a mental hospital, much like her mother did.
However, while her mother ended her own life, Elizabeth fights through her suffering, accepting her issues rather than viewing herself as a victim. In the end, she is inspired by her son to push forward and choose life, whereas her mother chose death.