Why does Elsa have an abortion in Athol Fugard's play The Road to Mecca?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In the play The Road to Mecca, playwright Athol Fugard reveals that Elsa had an abortion because she got involved in a relationship with a married man and severed the relationship.

In Act 2, Elsa reveals that she realized she was pregnant and had an abortion two weeks after David returned to his wife. Her abortion is the reason why, as described in the fist act, she stopped to offer a lift to an African woman, carrying a baby strapped to her back, walking along the highway and the reason why Elsa can't stop thinking about the woman and her baby. She hated the woman and her baby because she feels the baby should have been her own. If she had let her own baby live, she would have at least had someone in her life to end her loneliness.

Earlier in the first act, she relays her breakup with David. She had allowed herself to carry on the affair with him because she had led herself to believe that, when it came time for David to make a choice, she would be the "lucky winner" (p. 19). However, she was wrong. The most painful part about the breakup for her was the fact that David "hated himself for hurting [her]" (p. 20). He was so pained for having caused her pain, that she felt disgusted by his pain and wished he would just boldly walk out the door and return to his wife like a man. Hence, by the time she realized she was pregnant, she just wanted to be rid of him, his memories, and all the pain and shame she felt for having been so wrong about her choice to get involved; she tried to rid herself of all these things through her abortion. However, now she regrets her decision because she thinks the baby would have put an end to her loneliness.

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