Form and Content
Set in contemporary South Africa, My Son’s Story is primarily a story about the public and private life of Sonny, originally a schoolteacher with a lovely family. Largely a self-taught black man with middle-class values and aspirations, Sonny, despite his modest and even complacent yearnings (“to improve” himself through literacy in order to gain respect), loses his teaching position when he takes part in his students’ rally. The circumstances, together with his talents in literacy, literature, public speaking, and organizational skills, turn him into a professional social activist. He is recruited by a liberation organization and is paid to move his family into a white neighborhood as part of the struggle against apartheid.
Sonny’s destiny as a professional activist, which has fallen into the hands of the secret police and the judicial system as well as those of his own organization, is compounded by his passionate extramarital relationship with Hannah Plowman, a white woman from a human rights organization who visits him regularly when he is in jail. They are mutually attracted because of the common cause they share; for this reason, Hannah is both a lover and a comrade to Sonny, whereas Aila, whom he married young, is neither. His clandestine affair is discovered by Will, but Sonny manages to manipulate his son, to his chagrin and resentment, into keeping it a secret and therefore becoming an accomplice in the betrayal of Aila....
(The entire section is 524 words.)