What is Katrina's oppression in The Road to Mecca?

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Oppression, which means unjust treatment, can operate in many ways. For example, societal oppression can impact entire groups, and specific individuals within those groups can be individually oppressed in multiple ways.

The Road to Mecca takes place in apartheid South Africa, a country that unjustly treated an entire group of...

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Oppression, which means unjust treatment, can operate in many ways. For example, societal oppression can impact entire groups, and specific individuals within those groups can be individually oppressed in multiple ways.

The Road to Mecca takes place in apartheid South Africa, a country that unjustly treated an entire group of people, black South Africans, by refusing to give them equal rights under the law. As a black South African, Katrina is also individually oppressed by the system of apartheid, because she is also denied her rights. However, Katrina suffers more than just racial oppression: her situation is compounded by being a black South African woman, and therefore she has to face oppressive stereotypes about what women can and cannot do.

This oppression is gendered but also has a religious component, because Katrina believes strongly in the sanctity of marriage for religious reasons, and all of the South African society believes that wives must stay with their husbands. Therefore, even though Katrina's husband is violent, there is strong societal and religious pressure for her to stay with him. Thus, Katrina the individual is oppressed individually by a broader societal oppression that impacts her even more as a black South African woman in a religious community.

Katrina also faces oppression in the form of abuse from her husband. Although her husband claims that their child is not his, there does not seem to be any direct evidence of this, and his treatment of her cannot be justified.

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Out of all the characters in "The Road to Mecca," it is probably Katrina who has it worst in regard to oppression. She faces the same sort of social oppression as other characters in regard to her race and gender, being a victim of apartheid as a black woman; however, she also experiences a much more intimate and brutal oppression.

Katrina is married to Koos, who is well known for being an abuser and a drunkard. Furthermore, he does not believe that Katrina's child is her own. Though it is stated that Koos does not beat Katrina anymore, her life with him is still difficult to endure. She feels, however, that she cannot leave him due to the sanctity of marriage.

In this way, Katrina's oppression is social, marital, and physical.

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Katrina is a young woman who drops in to help and check on Miss Helen from time to time. When Elsa asks about her, Miss Helen says that she is fine and so is the baby, who is "as prettily dressed these days as any white baby." This is a good clue that Katrina is black, and that she experiences racism within the community as a result of her race (to compare her child to a white child in this way makes it sound as though white children are certainly more affluent). Further, Miss Helen explains that Katrina's husband "Koos has started drinking again. And making all sorts of terrible threats about her and the baby." Apparently, Katrina's husband does not actually believe that her baby is his. However, Miss Helen says that Koos does not "beat" Katrina anymore after "The warning [Elsa] gave him [the] last time" she was in town." Elsa wishes that Katrina would leave him and find someone who would "value her as a human being and take care of her and the child." Miss Helen expresses her belief that this is impossible because Katrina is married, while Elsa feels that Katrina should not consider her marriage "sacred" when she's been abused; but it seems to be a cultural norm that the woman stays even when this is the case. Therefore, Katrina certainly experiences oppression as a woman and, likely, as a black person too.

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I would say that Katrina experiences two main forms of oppression that are illustrated in the story. The first form of oppression would be racial oppression. As a "colored" woman, she is subjected to the belief that she isn't as intelligent as a white person. Even when Elsa is trying to defend Katrina's intelligence by telling Helen that Katrina can talk about more than cleaning and babies, it's still said in an oppressive manner.

Your colored folk read newspapers too.

Elsa might have good intentions, but the phrasing is clearly grouping Katrina apart from Elsa and Miss Helen.

The other form of oppression that Katrina experiences is marital oppression or domestic oppression. Her husband, Koos, is a drunk who both physically and verbally abuses Katrina.

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