Born a Crime

by Trevor Noah

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Student Question

In Born a Crime, how do patriarchal views affect Noah and his mother? Are such views still prevalent in modern Australia?

Expert Answers

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Patriarchal views certainly affect Trevor Noah and his mother in Trevor's memoir Born a Crime. Let's begin by analyzing the quotation and then look at some of the ways it plays out in the story.

The quotation is a paradox. The speaker admits that on a national level, an official level, the “power of women” is a recognized fact, but that official level does not extend into the home. At home, women are expected to “submit and obey” their husbands. In other words, they take a second-class role in family life with the man at the head of the house.

We see this in the memoir especially in the sections that describe Patricia's relationship with her husband, Abel. Abel is violent, particularly when he is drinking. He hits Patricia, and she wants to file charges against him. Yet those charges are dismissed. Abel hits Trevor, too, an act that permanently ruins their relationship.

Even though Trevor is not female, he is something of a second-class person to Abel because he is Patricia's son but not Abel's. When Trevor is only seventeen, his mother tells him that he must move out of the house. There is too much risk in having Trevor around Abel. She sees the situation as having two fully grown lions in the same space. Violence is bound to erupt again.

Here we see the patriarchal view. Abel seems to believe that he is head of the house and there fore has the authority to do what he wants, even if that means violence. Patricia and Trevor must submit.

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