Motivational Racism ("Kaffir Boy" Comparison to "By Any Other Name")

Essay by Phreaker11High School, 12th gradeA-, May 2004

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Motivational Racism

Both the essay "By Any Other Name" and the story "Kaffir Boy" deal with the agony of racism. In Santha Rama Rau's essay "By Any Other Name," the two characters, Premila and Santha, leave their school because they are wealthy enough to receive an education where they will not receive racist remarks. In Mark Mathabane's "Kaffir Boy," Mark has grown up in poverty. Though Mark is told that he will never amount to anything because he is black, Mark strives for success since he has nothing to lose. Through a comparison of different reactions to prejudices revealed in the stories, we learn that our choices should be determined by which options offer the greatest rewards and/or the fewest penalties.

Premila and Santha both attend an Anglo-Indian school. When the girls first arrive they notice subtle racist gestures, such as the change in their names to make them British names: "Those names are much too hard for me.

Suppose we give you pretty English names. Wouldn't that be more jolly?" (Rama Rau 257). There is also peer pressure from the white and Indian children in the class to eat British food: "She also told her mother, aside, that they should take sandwiches to school the next day, not that she minded but it would be simpler for her to handle" (Rama Rau 256). Santha also noticed that all the Indian children in her class were grouped together at the back of the class, as if exiled from the other students. Premila had enough when she was directly insulted by the teacher: "Me and the other Indians had to sit with a desk between each of us. She said it was because Indians cheat" (Rama Rau 257).

In "Kaffir Boy," Mark Mathabane...