When Rain Clouds Gather

by Bessie Head, Bessie Amelia Emery

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What are Gilbert's and Makhaya's attitudes towards women and men's roles in relationships?

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The attitudes of these two men in Bessie Head’s novel differ in part because of the racial, national, social, and educational differences between them, although both are foreigners living in Botswana.

Maseko, a black South African refugee, left his native country to escape the restrictive racial discrimination that is institutionalized in apartheid. Gilbert is a white Englishman who has come to help the indigenous people by modernizing their agriculture. Maseko is aware of the multiple roles that women play in southern African society and is open to listening to them. Gilbert believes that men should take charge and underestimates the women’s knowledge and influence. His authoritarian attitude is shown in his top-down approach to project administration. Rather than ask the local women to choose their own leader, he appoints a male foreigner to supervise them. Maseko supports Paulina in the difficulties she faces when her son dies and she must confront the chief; they also develop a romantic relationship.

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