Who is the speaker in the poem "An Abandoned Bundle" by Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali?

Quick answer:

The speaker in "An Abandoned Bundle" is a resident of an informal settlement who comes across dogs attacking the corpse of abandoned baby. Together with the child and its mother, the speaker is subject to the draconian laws of Apartheid South Africa.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The speaker in this poem does not introduce himself directly, but we learn about him along the way as we read the poem.

The first thing we learn is that he is a resident of White City Jabavu, which is an informal settlement in the South African province of Gauteng. Since the Jabavu area provided many mineworkers for the nearby Daggafontein Mine, it is likely that the speaker is a miner. He is certainly subject to the harsh laws of Apartheid South Africa.

Based on where he lives, we know that the speaker lives a hard life. He describes his home as being covered with "pus oozing from a gigantic sore," implying dirt and a lack of sanitation. The description of the "scavenging" dogs attacking the defenseless baby creates an image of hunger, hopelessness, and abject poverty surrounding this man.

Despite his tough upbringing, we know that he still has compassion for his fellow man. He throws a brick at the dogs attacking the baby to get them off it. We also know that he believes in the innocence of the child because by referring to him as a "Baby in the Manger," he likens the child to baby Jesus.

Interestingly, he refers to the child's mother—who has just abandoned her child to die—as having a face "glittering with innocence." I would argue that the speaker in this poem is someone determined to see the good in everybody.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial