(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Blankets” is told in the third person, interspersed with dialogue and the main character’s thoughts. The main action takes place in a tiny, stifling bedroom and in the walled-in yard of one of the “box-board-and-tin shanties” of a suburban slum. Like most of Alex La Guma’s short stories and novels, “Blankets” records events that deal with apartheid in South Africa.

The story begins when Choker wakes up irritated in the hot, stifling bedroom of a woman friend with whom he has just spent the night. Feeling ill and angry because of the room’s oppressive heat and the unpleasant odors of the filthy blanket and sagging, smelly mattress on the old, drooping, wobbly bed, he curses irritably at everyone and everything: his sweaty, half-asleep woman friend, the wailing baby in the tin-bathtub crib who has been awakened by the “agonized sounds of the bed-spring,” and the woman friend’s estranged but jealous and protective lover. Tired of listening to the unrelenting “blerry noise” of the “damn kid,” Choker walks out in a huff, but not before the woman warns that her estranged lover and father of her baby, who is quite displeased with Choker’s visits, is likely to harm him. Dismissing her warning off-handedly and, true to his tough-man reputation, threatening to “break him in two” with his “thick, ropy, grimed hands,” which he uses for “hurting rather than for working,” Choker leaves the hot, humid room, scowling...

(The entire section is 520 words.)