Learn everything you need to know about Fiela se kind - the drama with this free pdf study guide for Grade 12 EAT
Fiela se Kind: A South African Classic
Fiela se Kind, or Fiela's Child in English, is a novel by Dalene Matthee, one of South Africa's most celebrated authors. Published in 1985, it tells the story of a white boy who is raised by a black family in the Knysna Forest, only to be taken away by the authorities and placed with a white family who claims he is their lost son. The novel explores themes of identity, race, belonging, and acceptance, as well as the contrast between nature and culture in South Africa. It is a powerful and moving tale that exposes the harsh realities of apartheid and celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.
Summary of the Plot
The novel begins in 1865, when Fiela Komoetie, a black woman who lives in the Long Kloof region with her husband Selling and their four children, finds a three-year-old white boy on her doorstep. She decides to adopt him and names him Benjamin. Nine years later, two census takers come to Fiela's farm and notice Benjamin's white skin. They suspect that he might be Lukas van Rooyen, a white child who went missing in the Knysna Forest around the same time that Benjamin appeared. They take Benjamin away from Fiela and bring him to Elias and Barta van Rooyen, a poor woodcutter family who live in a hut in the forest. Barta identifies Benjamin as her son Lukas, even though she is not sure. The magistrate orders Benjamin to stay with the van Rooyens until he is 21.
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Benjamin, now called Lukas, has a hard time adjusting to his new life in the forest. He misses Fiela and his siblings, and he does not feel comfortable with his supposed parents or brothers. He also has to endure Elias's harsh treatment and heavy work as an apprentice woodcutter. The only person he gets along with is Nina, his sister, who is rebellious and independent. Nina often defies Elias and runs away from home to visit her lover, Kaliel September, a black man who lives in a cave. Nina also teaches Lukas how to read and write, something that Elias forbids.
As Lukas grows up, he becomes more accustomed to his forest identity, but he never forgets Fiela or his Long Kloof roots. He also develops romantic feelings for Nina, which he tries to suppress. When he turns 21, he decides to leave the forest and work as a sailor at the coast. There, he meets an old friend of Fiela's, who tells him that Fiela has never given up on finding him. He also learns that Barta lied about recognizing him as her son, under pressure from one of the census takers who wanted to get rid of him. He realizes that he is not Lukas van Rooyen, but Benjamin Komoetie.
Benjamin returns to the forest to confront Barta and Elias, who admit their deception. He also confesses his love for Nina, who reciprocates his feelings. They decide to run away together to start a new life. Benjamin also visits Fiela at her farm, where he is welcomed with joy and tears Analysis of the Themes
Identity and Belonging
One of the main themes of the novel is the protagonist's quest for his true identity and sense of belonging. Benjamin is torn between two worlds: the Long Kloof, where he was raised by Fiela as a black child, and the forest, where he was forced to live as Lukas, a white child. He does not know who he really is or where he belongs. He feels alienated and confused by his racial and cultural differences. He also suffers from the loss of his original family and the lack of love and affection from his new one. He questions his identity and his place in society throughout the novel.
Benjamin's identity crisis is resolved when he learns the truth about his origins and decides to reclaim his name and heritage. He rejects the false identity that was imposed on him by the authorities and the van Rooyens, and embraces his Long Kloof identity as Benjamin Komoetie. He also chooses to be with Nina, who shares his mixed background and understands his feelings. He finds his true self and his true family in the end.
Race and Class
Another theme of the novel is the impact of race and class on the lives of the characters. The novel exposes the injustices and prejudices of apartheid South Africa, where people are divided and discriminated based on their skin color and social status. The novel shows how race and class determine one's opportunities, rights, freedoms, and dignity in society.
The novel illustrates how race and class affect the characters in different ways. For example, Fiela is a strong, independent, and successful black woman who owns her own farm and business. She is respected and admired by her community for her hard work and generosity. However, she is also vulnerable to the oppression and abuse of the white authorities, who can take away her child without any reason or evidence. She has to fight for her rights and her son's rights in a system that is rigged against her.
On the other hand, Elias is a poor, ignorant, and violent white man who lives in a hut in the forest. He is a woodcutter who depends on the forest for his livelihood. He is also a drunkard who beats his wife and children. He has no respect or compassion for anyone, not even his own family. He is despised and feared by his neighbors for his cruelty and dishonesty. He has no power or influence in society, except for his white privilege, which he uses to claim Benjamin as his son.
Nature and Culture
A third theme of the novel is the contrast between nature and culture in South Africa. The novel depicts two different settings: the Long Kloof, which represents culture, civilization, and progress; and the forest, which represents nature, wilderness, and tradition. The novel compares and contrasts the different lifestyles and values of the people who live in these settings.
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The Long Kloof is a fertile valley where Fiela lives with her family. It is a place of abundance, prosperity, and diversity. It is also a place of education, innovation, and commerce. Fiela runs a successful ostrich farm and sells ostrich feathers to traders from all over the world. She also teaches her children how to read and write, how to manage money, and how to be independent. Fiela values hard work, honesty, kindness, and justice.
The forest is a dense woodland where Elias lives with his family. It is a place of scarcity, poverty, and isolation. It is also a place of superstition, tradition, and survival. Elias cuts down trees for a living and sells them to the government for a low price. He also follows the old customs and beliefs of his ancestors, such as worshipping the forest spirit and sacrificing animals. Elias values obedience, loyalty, fear, and violence.
Reception and Legacy
Fiela se Kind received widespread praise from critics and readers for its literary merit and social relevance. The novel was hailed as a masterpiece of South African literature, as well as a powerful indictment of apartheid and a tribute to the human spirit. The novel was praised for its realistic and vivid portrayal of the South African landscape and society, its complex and sympathetic characters, its compelling and emotional plot, and its rich and poetic language. The novel was also commended for its universal appeal and its ability to transcend the boundaries of race, class, and culture.
Adaptations and Translations
Fiela se Kind was adapted into various media forms and translated into several languages. The novel was adapted into a film in 1988, directed by Katinka Heyns and starring Shaleen Surtie-Richards as Fiela and Dawid Minnaar as Benjamin. The film was a critical and commercial success, w