Literature essay: Road to Mecca by Athul Fugard

Essay by BakgatHigh School, 11th grade November 2002

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Literature essay:Road to Mecca

In The Road to Mecca we learn about conformity and eccentricity and how people who stray from the normal accepted road are judged and condemned for merely being themselves. But we also learn about love and friendship and the people who experience these blessings.

Set in a small town in the Karoo region of South Africa The Road to Mecca is the story of miss Helen, an artist trying to survive in an isolated community, and her two friends, Marius, the local dominee, and Elsa, a schoolteacher from the city.

Feeling alone and unable to complete her work Miss Helen, in a state of depression, writes a letter pleading for help to her long time friend Elsa. Both women have much in common -- both are rebels against the normal accepted social standards: Elsa teaches radical material to her coloured students, and Helen's exotic artwork defies traditional notions of art encompassing her entire house and garden, her own homemade Mecca.

On arriving at the house, Elsa discovers Miss Helen is desperate for someone to help her renew her faith in herself. After a series of accidents around the house, the local dominee, and good friend, Marius has decided to try and convince Miss Helen to retire to his church's old age home.

In one evening, friendships are challenged and beliefs questioned as they confront themselves and one another. Convinced that Miss Helen is unfit to live by herself, Marius tries to manipulate Miss Helen into moving into the retirement home. Elsa, on the other hand, praises Miss Helen's freedom and individuality claiming that Miss Helen is "the first truly free spirit I have ever known".

In the end, the friendship of the two women triumphs in a reaffirmation of friendship and love reconciling differences.

The story...