What are the reasons for the conflict between Oupa and Veronica?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Veronica Jonkers and her grandfather, Abraam Jonkers (also known as "Oupa" to her and "Buks" to others), experience conflict because Veronica wants to leave their home in the Karoo, a region of South Africa, to pursue her dream of being a singer. At the beginning of the play, she sings "Railway Bus" and says, "I want to climb on board / I want to see big cities" (page 10). Her grandfather does not want her to leave their home because he is attached to her, but the idea of her going on the "Railway Bus" also scares him. As he says, "It brings back memories...memories of things I've tried to forget all these years" (page 11).

Oupa tells Veronica that Veronica's mother, Caroline, ran away on that railway bus with her boyfriend and that Oupa and his wife, Ouma, did not hear from their daughter for a year. Then, a hospital in Johannesburg called and said Caroline was sick. Ouma went to see her and returned with Veronica, who was then a baby, as Caroline had died. Oupa fears that if Veronica leaves the valley to go to Johannesburg as Caroline did, something bad will happen to Veronica. Oupa also feels that he needs Veronica by his side because he is facing difficult times. A white man has appeared in town and is interested in buying the farm on which Oupa has long lived as a tenant farmer. He feels that Veronica is not helping him in his moment of need. 

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The major reason for the conflict between Oupa and Veronica was Veronica’s wish to leave the valley for the city. Oupa, her grandfather, was opposed to this idea because of a similar situation that resulted in the death of her daughter, Veronica’s mother. Veronica’s mother eloped with her boyfriend and settled in Johannesburg. A year later, she became very ill and later died, leaving behind Veronica as a baby.

Veronica was taken in and raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather worked as a tenant farmer, and her grandmother doubled as a servant in the landowner’s house. Veronica’s grandmother passed on, and Oupa expected Veronica to step into her responsibilities.

While all this was happening, Oupa was at risk of losing his farmland to a new landowner. The new developments worried him, but Veronica saw the situation as an opportunity to pursue her dreams in the city. She wanted to become a musician and made arrangements to stay with her friend Priscilla, who lived in Johannesburg with her mother.

At first, Oupa strongly objected to Veronica’s wish to leave the valley. Instead, he wanted her to work as a servant for the landowner. Veronica was strongly opposed to this: ‘‘You will never see me on my knees scrubbing a white man's floor." The conflict was resolved after she convinced Oupa to let her go.