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Folktale Analysis of Noplani Gxavu’s

The text that this paper would be dealing with is Noplani Gxavu’s “The Cast-off. ” The narrative is a product of the Xhosa of South Africa. “The Castoff” explores both the familiarity and complexity of the journey to adulthood. The story was basically about the theme of coming to age, puberty, and the challenges that accompany the young in the journey towards maturity. The protagonist of the story is a girl named Thintwayo. She was described to be a beautiful woman as opposed to her younger sister who was simply described as ugly.

Thintwayo’s parents are irrationally treated her badly. Favoritism was extremely lopsided favoring the younger ugly sister. Her parents even wanted their beautiful daughter killed. In a ritual for unwed women, her parents told the younger sister and the other women to get Thintwayo killed. The parents planned to get Thintwayo buried alive in the clay pit. Thintwayo was saved by her age mates and managed to pass the ritual. This did not please her parents instead they tried to hurt her. The father welcomed her with a beating when she got home.

Then her mother hit her on the head with a “stirrer still covered with bubbling hot food” (163). This particular image is so powerful as we could see that the mother had abandoned her motherly obligations to Thintwayo. Upon leaving her house, she went to the river where she met a monitor lizard. The monitor lizard told her to follow him in the water, the lizard told her that she would not drown. She trusted the lizard and she did not drown. This is in contrast to the part when her younger sister asked her to enter the clay hole, she completely did not trust her sister.

Thintwayo told the monitor lizard “I’m not loved by my mother and father… there is no reason. ” The monitor lizard sympathized with the poor Thintwayo, then led her to the royal residence. This portion of the story functions as the second part wherein repetition of images occurred. The royal residence seemed to be a mirror opposite of Thintwayo’s house. When she arrived at the royal residence, she was immediately fed “thick milk was poured over boiled corn for her” (165). The people were kind to her, she felt like she had finally found a home.

The plot started to turn around when the younger sister was ordered by their father to dip water from the river. She failed to fetch water and so did her mother. Both of them received a beating from the father. The reversal occurred when the family discovered that only Thintwayo could let them dip water from the river. And as if nothing had happened, Thintwayo forgave his family even though they were the very source of her unhappiness. And just as their baseless hate of their own daughter, the parents attitude toward their children suddenly changed in the ending.

To keep the arguments of this paper intact, it would be helpful if it would be kept in mind that the story traversed more on the metaphorical realm rather than the literal. The beatings that Thintwayo incurred from her father were the representation of the friction between child and parent during the child’s puberty. We could think of that friction as a harsh exchange of words between a concerned parent and a troubled teenager. Moreover, Thintwayo and her sister could be treated as one entity who represent the difference in the mode of thinking of a a mature adult and naive child.

Two points support this claim: her parents asked her sister to bury Thintwayo alive and the writer could have decided on eliminating either of the sisters, but did not, again because they are the same person metaphorically speaking. As a personal interpretation, it could be deduced that Thintwayo was still viewed as immature (by her parents) even though she is already a young adult. That is why her parents wanted her to bury the old self, which also means to the old self behind (on the metaphorical level), to make way for the new one. It should also be noted that Thintwayo’s age mates wanted her to join them in womanhood.

They had given Thintwayo portions of their ocher so that she would also pass the ritual or test. This particular ritual could be easily interpreted as a representation of puberty wherein the women have to prove themselves by bringing back something valuable and leaving behind what is not needed (like childishness and naiveness). The theme of acceptance could be easily surfaced from this particular folktale. The story started with Thintwayo already feeling the need for her parents love and affection. What tipped this characterization detail is that she been hated by her parents since the beginning.

The complication is amplified when we learn that Thintwayo was both beautiful and kind, there was no reason to hate her especially by her own parentts. The message of the story is something that we could put into use in the present era. It seems that earlier cultures had these rituals to make it clear to the individual that he or she is moving to adulthood. That is in striking contrast to the modern culture wherein there rituals like this are not popular. Thintwayo and her age mates had to undergo a coming-to-age rituals which requires them to fetch ocher.

Although, some cultures have coming-to-age rituals like circumcision, most cultures fail to realize the function of this rituals. Our modern culture could either have a child wearing adult clothes or mid-aged men having childlike fascination over video games. The story had shared with us that the shift from puberty to maturity is full of challenges. However, through her ordeals Thintwayo learned to be strong grow as a woman. Work Cited Gxavu, Noplandi. The Cast-Off (from Folktales Told Around the World). Chicago: University of Chicago. 1978.

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