Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 204

The themes of this book are the brutality of apartheid and the power of education. Mathabane is a black person born in South Africa during apartheid, and, during his childhood, he experiences extreme poverty, police brutality, and limited opportunities as a result of the racist ideology of apartheid. His parents, who are both from tribal reserves but who live in a ghetto called Alexandra, cannot get the right permits to get good jobs. They also don't have the benefit of an education because they are poor and black. Mathabane manages to prevail against overwhelming odds to get an education and go to an American college on a tennis scholarship; however, most of the black people around him face lives of extremely limited opportunity because of apartheid.

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Mathabane believes in the power of education to help himself and his family. His mother is a relentless optimist who keeps urging her 7 children to get educations. Those around them who aren't educated wind up begging or existing as parts of street gangs as a result of their limited opportunities. Because Mathabane persists in school and learns English, Afrikaans, and other subjects, his future is brighter, and he is able to win a scholarship to study in America.

Themes

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 180

The themes that are present throughout the autobiographical novel Kaffir Boy include racism, classism, perseverance in the face of oppression, and individual choice. Mark Mathabane struggles with having to endure both racism and poverty in...

(The entire section contains 384 words.)

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