A Walk in the Night

by Alex La Guma

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What are the major and minor themes in "A Walk in the Night"?

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The biggest theme in the story is the ways in which society falls apart under apartheid. Anything stable seems simply unattainable; Michael joins a gang, Franky's family despairs, and Joe escapes to the sea for comfort. The urban slums are full of sadness, and neighbors feel that they cannot trust one another.

One significant underlying theme, which functions below the overarching theme of the significance of apartheid, involves the overall corrosion of humanity. The police in Cape Town harass the locals more than they actually help them. Both black and white citizens are slowly broken down by apartheid. The victims enter into a disturbing cycle of violence, releasing their rage by pummeling each other, even family members and spouses. The description of the physical decay of the novel's setting also correlates with the slow, painful breakdown of humanity.

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