22 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2021
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    1. Was she the punishment for the ape in the mirror?

      (119) The protagonist despises himself for his physical appearance. He has internalized racist norms of appearance and feels like an ape, which is why he covers himself up in clothes. However, he still has a love interest, Margaret, who loves him despite his self-hatred. Yet, when she cries during intercouse, he feels like he has hurt her. Her being his punishment could be interpreted as in his self-hatred is so great that he believes he only hurts the people around, that he is corrupting her with his own "apishness". Maybe her mere existence as a soft and delicate person pains the protagonist , since he believes he could never measure up to that.

    2. Neanderthal to the man of today who is supposed 114 to see things like a camera lens looks at you just before the shutter falls. I refuse to see things that way! They look at you like you want me to look at that goat

      (114-5) I believe that Marechera's character is having some sort of mental breakdown. The whole story seems to be his attempts to justify his unwillingness to kill a goat for Christmas. However, he goes on and on about the toxicity of the environment and its expectations on men, the double standards between men and women, gas chambers, the hierarchy about eating and the objectification of women. The narrator is losing it. I presume it's because of loneliness, mental instability, or even a fear about how people might perceive him. At the end of the short story he even suggests giving the goat to the Makonis, which would be an act of kindness if he actually wanted to help them, rather than them being his escape from the responsibility of killing it. This whole story sounds very similar to Marechera's own erratic way of speaking. At the end the narrator also claims that he has already reserved a spot at a restaurant for Christmas. Did he plan this whole rant sequence, or was it all random? If he already had a reservation, why would he rant about all the injustices in the world?

    3. There were the two of us in the house, Ruth and 1.

      (112) There is no mention of Peter, who should also be there as well. Did he also die, or did he leave?

    4. the two envelopes.

      (106)There is a sense of dualism in this phrase - the recurring two envelopes as well as Harry's notions of good and evil throughout the short story. Harry believes that success is true good (102). Being raised by a racist preacher, Harry's idea on success is either having money and style, as well as having a white chick around. Him betraying his own people by acting as a spy for the Special Branch is probably also a form of success, since he does not want to have anything to do with other black people. For him, they are "evil", since their suffering is like an "in-built element in life" (102). The white envelope Harry receives from the black detective on p. 103 might be payment for giving out information. However, it is taken from his hands by Philip, who adds another envelope and creates a game-like situation. It reminds me of the trick magicians do when they hide a ball underneath two cups and move them around in an attempt to fool you. Philip is probably reveling in Harry's suffering, making him feel weak and exposed for daring to betray them. Maybe the envelopes are a way to confront Harry's simplistic view on the world - you don't really know what is inside the envelopes, just as you don't really know what good and evil is.

    5. Where was hope -where was vision?

      (107)In this moment of despair for the narrator, who is drinking whiskey he hates and who is witnessing the psychological torture of somebody he was once close with, he wonders about hope and its existence. His friend Philip is has beaten up and is now playing iwth Harry, someone of their own blood, who had been working as a spy for the enemy. The hope that something could change, the way the main character felt while he was around Immaculate, is gone. He cannot feel it because he is surrounded by all the toxic elements of his environment.

    6. He was not heavy. And his thin broken voice saying 82 over and over 'I'm a monkey, I'm a baboon, I'm a baboon,' this too was not heavy. I understood it only too well.

      (82-83) Edmund starts calling himself a monkey after being viciously beaten up by Jet. Moneky has been used as a derogatory term against black people, basically calling them primative and stupid. Edmund starts hating himself for being a short, helpless black kid who comes from a poor disgraced family and who farts for attention. He starts hating the color of his own skin, something with which the narrator is all too familiar with. On page 59 he says "Here we go again" after Julia asks whether he hates being black. Later he tries to justify himself (60), saying he is tired of all the things that come with being black - of being a victim of random cruelty in life. He relates to Edmund for that, he knows the feeling of hating a part of yourself because it comes with consequences that you cannot control.

    7. the fool!

      (89) The narrator constantly refers to himself as "the fool". On page 17, when he talks to Immaculate about revealing some sort of truth to Peter, he calls himself a fool. On page 23, again while conversing with Immaculate, he calls himself a fool for believing in hope while he is with her. On page 88, just before he calls himself a fool for the third time, he recognizes Immaculate's gaze in Patricia's eyes, a gaze that makes one full of belief. The only positive feelings the narrator has ever had for someone seems to Immaculate, even though he wanted to get rid of her as well, presumably because emotion is a weakness in this dangerous environment. That's why he calls himself a fool - only fools fall in love.

    8. Edmund entertained us with a species of farting

      (78) Edmund is commonly associated with farting. During the thunderstorm that terrified the narrator he farts (42). During the dream sequence on page 52 a wall is vandalized with the slogan "ART IS FART", which the narrator suspects Edmund has done. Farting is something children do to get a laugh out of their friends and attract attention from others. From the description on pages 77-78 we can infer that Edmund, beings ostracized from his classmates, would probably do anything to gain attention from others. He reads Russian literature, something Westerners during the Cold War would probably not approve of, and his lockers are decorated with portraits of the Devil - an act that would certainly provoke others. A chance to provoke others and to rebel those who have mistreated him and who had made his life miserable from the start might be a reason for why he joined the Bush war and fight with guerrillas.

    9. The Government Inspector

      (78)The Government Inspector, as is said in the text, is a satirical play by NIkolai Gogol from 1836. From reading the resume of the play on Wikipedia I see a lot of intertextual links between it and The House of Hunger. The purpose of Gogol's play was to expose the stupidity and corruption in Imperial Russia. It contained surreal sequences and lacked any sort of love interest or sympathetic characters as a whole. In this regard it is very similar to House of Hunger - every character, including the narrator himself, is a immoral, almost animal-like human being, whose only goal is to survive in the horrid landscape that is Rhodesia. They are mistreated by Smith's governemnt (who values white people more) and will attempt at any means of survival just to get by. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Government_Inspector

    10. She had become the kind of person who has no need of claws

      (67) Her "claws" are not needed anymore because she has found a way already to manipulate white men nd cheat the system. Her "claws", which are a metaphor for her means of survival (59), have already been used successfully and she does not need them anymore.

    11. 'Do you think white girls are any better in bed? That Patricia, for instance.' 'The weather was rather humid. Sort of sticky and stuffY; you couldn't keep it in without slipping and falling to the rocks below.'

      (61)The narrator compares his experience with Patricia, the white girl, to natural phenomena. On p. 17, however, he expresses his anger with not being able to control nature. He is furious and ashamed that he is under its control. He believes that nature is a part of him and should fear it. Comparing a white woman to such natural phenomena evokes the complex feeling he has towards white people in general - even though they live beside him and are a part of each others' lives, they could destroy him at any moment they please.

    12. Her painted claws reached out and closed over my fist.

      Claws are a recurring symbol throughout the book. The author continues to compare human traits to animalistic ones (13) as a way to highlight the pure animalistic urges of the black population, ravaged by "hunger", which I believe is a manifestation of their most inner desires (like the Id from Freud's psychoanalysis). Claws are the weapons of animals, with which they either attack prey or defend themselves. The "claws'' that people have are their manipulative tactics, seduction, or anything that would help them survive in the miserable ghetto. On a previous page (57) claws are mentioned again: "I was learning to keep my claws sheathed", spoken by the narrator himself after overcoming the demons laughing in his mind. To sheathe something, especially a dagger or another weapon, means to protect it, probably for further use. I interpret the quote asif the narrator realizes that he has to "protect" his methods of survival when he is faced with a real threat, rather than just something in his mind. In this situation (68), Julia's "claws'' is her ability to unnerve and weaken the narrator, who usually seems cold and collected. She succeeds in making him uncomfortable, questioning whether he hates the color of his own skin. She even starts laughing at this seemingly inappropriate situation, something that is similar to the narrator's own habit to laugh at inappropriate moments(28), forcing him out of his comfort zone of disinterested intervention.

    13. heart of darkness

      (57) Heart of Darkness is also a novella by Joseph Conrad published in 1899. One of the central themes of the novella is that there is little to no difference from the "civillized" westerned world and the "savage" African culture. However, within the context of the story, Harry's father uses the phrase "heart of darkness" with a different connotation; for him, the heart of darkness is the African culture, something that his own people hold near and dear to their hearts. He believes that everything associated with African culture and traditions is savage and apish, while praising the white man, as seen later in the text (58). Unlike the African people, the white man for him is a symbol of rational and civility, a bringer of innovation and productivity, which starkly contrast the main idea from Heart of Darkness.

    14. Pauline travellers on the road to Damascus

      (56) A biblical reference to Paul's conversion to Christianity, as well as bestowing him the responsibility of an Apostle of Christ. It is believed that on the road to Damascus (city in Syria) Paul rethinks his whole perspective and identity after realizing the significance of Christ's sacrifice. The narrator yet again uses Christian metaphors for his every-day life to highlight the emotional significance of these ordinary situations. This "clarity" that he felt could be a realization of the pointlessness of fearing the storms, recognizing that it is out of his hands. Perhaps he should embrace the storm like all of the other absurdities that happen in his life, rather than trying desperately to control them. Side note: This is the second (not sure) time Christian references are used whenever Harry is present. Harry might have a significant role further in the story.

    15. one side of which was always expressed in English and the other side always in Shana

      (53) One of the main internal conflicts the narrator is dealing with is between his identity as a Zimbabwean and his kinship with the English language. Marechera himself stated that he associates his native language, Shona, with the misery of the ghettos, while the English language provided him with a gateway to another world. The main character is divided between the two cultures, and this conflict may be a reason for confusion and indecision. This dualistic way of thinking reminds me of Asterios Polyp, who always views the world in terms of two opposing ideas, such as logic and creativity.

    16. The bitch.

      The narrator, even though he is intelligent and well-read, is very arrogant, condesending and distrusting of others. I don't know if it is some form of self-hatred or general apathy towards others.

    17. Special Branch

      "Special Branch" are British police forces responsible for intelligence and national security. It was a special unit of the BSAP during the political unrest in Rhodesia.

    18. a crow that has fed

      Another simile where a person is compared to or represented as an animal. Animals have primal instincts and desires and are not capable of complex thoughts like people are. Crows are depicted usually as wicked, and Peter comes of as such in this scene. Also, another allusion to hunger with the line "that has fed well".

    19. Immaculate

      Immaculate as an adjective is defined as "having/containing no flaw or error". Immaculate could be a symbol for the purity that is still intact even in such a miserable place like this. The narrarator himself stated that she "sounded young", youth being another indication of purity.

    20. her wide animal-like eyes

      Association with animals to accentuate the "appetite". Similar to the metaphor above "appetite for things living was at best wolfish" (13).

    21. emptiness whose appetite for things living was at best wolfish.

      Allusion towards hunger, the main theme of the story. Apetite in this context is the desire to feel alive

    22. thirsty

      There is a difference between thirsty and hungry. Thirsty associated with positive meaning (thirsty for knowledge); hungry associated with negative meaning (hungered for the fight, House of Hunger)