Is Elias van Rooyen in 'Fiela's Child' by Dalene Matthee to be despised or pitied?

Essay by fiona_jonesJunior High, 9th gradeA+, May 2006

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Elias van Rooyen is a strong character in the novel "Fiela's Child". He leads a normal life, making beams for money, but the money he makes is 'only just enough to live on' (pg 3). After Lukas is sent back to live with the van Rooyen's after the court case, and this is where we start to get to know Elias better. But the way he treats Lukas, Nina and his wife, and the way he gets his money, should be both despised and pitied. He is made out to be a bad man at the beginning of the novel, but he does love his family, and we see this towards the end of the novel.

Lukas joining back into the van Rooyen family puts a lot of pressure on Elias and Barta. They want Lukas to feel welcome and to be happy. But Lukas just wants to go back to the Long Kloof.

He does not want to talk or do anything Elias says, and Elias started to lose his patience. He shouts commands at Lukas like, 'Greet your brother and sister, Lukas!' (pg 104) twice and 'Come and sit over here, Lukas!' (pg 103). It makes us feel bad because he obviously does not realise exactly what Lukas has just gone through - having to leave the family he has grown up with.

We get to see the way he treats Nina too. He cuts her hair as a punishment 'the man grasped bundles of her hair and cut it as you cut corn with a knife' (pg 163). It is really disturbing and makes us think Elias is bad. Or the way he uses the ox reins on both of them, to whip them and to tie them up, 'he tied him up with the...