Open Sores of a Republic: Injustice and Poverty as Motifs in Alex La Guma’s First Three Novels

OGBEIDE, O. Victor


This paper examines injustice and poverty as motifs in Alex La Guma’s first three novels. A motif is a recurrent formal element in a work of art. The foundation of apartheid is injustice which often leads to massive poverty on the part of the non-white community whose members are hapless victims of marginalization and disfranchisement in the Republic of South Africa. The prevalence of the twin forces of injustice and poverty in apartheid South Africa which La Guma artistically portrays in his first three novels confers on them the status of a motif. This, in itself, is a function of the novelist’s deference to realism and artistic relevance. The paper discovers that the unrelenting travesty of justice and the prevalence of destitution which describe so many unsavoury scenes in the novels in focus are due to the non-whites’ lack of meaningful political consciousness which itself is a function of the racist government’s stamp on oppositional discourse. It is this vacuum that the puny and ineffective pockets of individual acts of courage attempt to fill in the three novels to no avail.



Injustice, poverty, motifs, apartheid, marginalization, realism

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