I want to know about structuralism, Marxism, and ideology in "The Old Chief Mshlanga."  

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Though Doris Lessing was a member of the Communist Party during part of her life, there is, in my view, no special reason to interpret "The Old Chief Mshlanga" as embodying a specfically Marxist ideology. At the time the story was written (1951) much or most of the Western world was still lacking any understanding of the immense injustice of racial oppression in South Africa and elsewhere. The US South at that time, of course, was still governed by a legalized system of racial segregation. Many conservative people in the 1950s tended to associate liberal ideas about race with Communism, partly because the Communist Party was, or professed to be, in favor of full racial equality, while the mainstream political parties in most Western countries were not.

That said, it's clear that Lessing's description of the apartheid system in this story can be subjected to a Marxian analysis, which would tend to identify racial oppression as having an economic basis. The climax of "The Old Chief Mshlanga" occurs when the Chief's goats overrun the property of the young girl narrator's father. The goats are confiscated and the Chief's people are relocated—that is, run off their land, just as Native Americans were in the US. Beyond this, the point of Lessing's story is the complete cultural disconnect felt by most people of European descent with the indigenous South African and Zimbabwean population. The narrator herself recognizes how wrong this is, but in the context of the times, her sympathy with Mshlanga is an anomaly. The disregard by the other white people for the feelings and needs of the indigenous population is described in stark terms. Lessing's story, in describing this mindset and the conditions it produced, in South Africa and elsewhere, is a chilling reminder of just how deeply unfair, oppressive, and dysfunctional this system was.

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Doris Lessing is the author of "The Old Chief Mshlanga", a short story published in her African collection, That Was the Old Chief Country (1951). The story centers on a young white girl and her experience with an African chief which illuminates the differences between colonials and natives. The story reveals that colonialism prevents true friendship and disallows coexistence even though she tries to connect with the land and its native people. The narrator who is born into colonialism, eventually understands that she is an unwelcome stranger.

If one were to look at this story from a Structuralist approach, the structural element  of point of view becomes important. At the beginning of the story, a young girl is introduced, later revealed to be the narrator. As she becomes more independent, her views  rise above those of her white culture. Also the structure of the story is based on a series of meetings between the girl and the natives, but the structure of the story is broken when she learns the Chief and his people have vanished.

If one were to look at this story from a Marxist approach, the ideological view of the story would be emphasized. Think of it as the canvas on which the writer creates or the historical context that influenced her writing. A Marxist approach concentrates on the relationship between people in different classes. Class struggle is a main idea in Marxist ideology.

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