A Dry White Season

by André Brink

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The impact of fear, paranoia, and betrayal on character behavior in A Dry White Season


In A Dry White Season, fear, paranoia, and betrayal profoundly affect character behavior. These emotions drive characters to act irrationally, make desperate decisions, and often betray their own values or loved ones. The oppressive political climate heightens these feelings, leading to a pervasive sense of mistrust and moral compromise among the characters.

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How do fear, paranoia, and betrayal influence character behavior in A Dry White Season?

Benjamin Du Toit becomes increasingly concerned about Gordon Ngubene after he disappears. Afraid that the police may torture and even kill Gordon if they apprehend him, Ben overcomes his reservations and sets out to find Gordon. Benjamin’s daughter, Suzette, grows increasingly alarmed at her father’s involvement in the investigation. She worries that government officials will find out what Ben is doing and that, if they catch him, they will believe that she and other family members are complicit in his actions. To ensure that the state does not accuse her, she betrays her father.

Andre Brink presents Ben as a person who had deliberately refused to confront the fact that the South African government injustices and abuses of the country’s black and colored citizens and residents. When a black student, Joseph Ngubene, goes missing after being detained by the police, his father, Gordon, sets out to find him. When Gordon also disappears, Ben finds he can no longer look the other way. He fears that the police or other government agents will harm Gordon, and sets out to find him. This decision leads to Bents longer-term support for Gordon and opposition to apartheid.

Ben’s adult daughter, Suzette, is a conservative person who worries about what other people think. She has no sympathy for political activists but is aware that the government does come down hard on its opponents. Suzette is more afraid that she will be implicated if her father’s activities are revealed. To forestall the possibility of her being included in any accusations against him, she betrays his confidence by disclosing where he has hidden potentially incriminating documents.

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How does fear influence characters' actions in A Dry White Season?

In A Dry White Season, a novel by André Brink, there is a climate of fear that affects both the black and parts of the white population in apartheid-era South Africa. This fear influences characters to do what they wouldn't do under normal circumstances. One of the most surprising plot twists in the novel, which exemplifies the influence of fear, is when Ben du Toit's daughter betrays him. Suzette du Toit is portrayed as a normal person who shows no signs of nationalism at the beginning of the novel.

However, when Ben tells Suzette and his son, Johan, where he is hiding sensitive documents, Suzette suddenly becomes a traitor. Her drastic change in attitude and personality is due to fear over what the government officials might do. She sees her father as a threat to the whole family's structure and existence. Suzette even betrays her father twice. She is someone who appears to show psychopathy and extremist views regarding the apartheid system, but underneath these surface-level behaviors is deep fear, which causes her metamorphosis into one of the villains.

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