12 Responses

  1. Amy
    Amy November 9, 2010 at 2:56 pm |

    Very interesting review! The book may be short but there is certainly a lot to think on. I felt the same way about Maru. I did not like him at all. I felt he only did what he did for two reasons. One is the reason you mention about changing people’s prejudices. The other reason was because Moleka liked her so she must be worth pursuing. He wanted to keep Moleka from “winning”.

    1. Rebecca Reid
      Rebecca Reid November 11, 2010 at 7:08 am |

      Amy, yes, interesting indeed. I know it’s not a fairy tale really, but that’s the only way I could make sense of it! I think you explain Maru well. Such an awful character!

  2. Eva
    Eva November 10, 2010 at 5:33 pm |

    I really want to give this a go! At least with confusing novellas it’s easier to reread them. :)

    1. Rebecca Reid
      Rebecca Reid November 11, 2010 at 7:12 am |

      Eva, yes, the shortness is a bonus because it’s not particularly ENJOYABLE but there IS more in there than meets the eye! Glad I’ve tempted you.

  3. Kinna
    Kinna November 11, 2010 at 12:35 am |

    This is the only book by Bessie Head that I’ve not read. Head’s books pack quite a punch. And are relentless in their questioning of assumptions and traditions that African hold dear. Nothing was off limits. I have to find this book. Your review has me hooked!

    1. Rebecca Reid
      Rebecca Reid November 11, 2010 at 7:15 am |

      Kinna, which is your favorite book by Bessie Head? I think I may find When Rain Clouds Gather because some seem to indicate it’s better than Maru. I did “like” this but it was definitely not a favorite. I think she does a great job describing scenes though. Beautiful writing.

  4. Savannah
    Savannah May 4, 2011 at 10:39 am |

    Im currently in school and we are reading Maru as part of the curriculum. Unfortunatly my english teacher doesnt explain the happenings in the story in detail (as a matter of fact she doesnt explain much at all.) Im having trouble fully understanding the story. Im writing a literature test on Part 1 of the book. Can anyone help me??????

  5. Nqobilousity
    Nqobilousity July 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm |

    I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEE MARU! :( Too Bad Bessie Is No longer Alive . That’s The Bestes BoOK Ever!

  6. Gesa
    Gesa September 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |

    I know your review has already been posted a while ago. I was reading it for an exam I have on Maru. I do not quite agree with you in everything. for example, while I agree that Maru´s character is very difficult and unlikeable, I do believe that he loves Margaret. The similarity of Maru´s and Margaret´s character is mentioned often enough; that they both have a whole kingdom inside them unlike the inner world of anybody else; plus, it becomes clear in the beginning of the novel that Maru is still jealous of Margaret´s love to Moleka – why would he care about that if he only married her to start a revolution?
    However, I just wanted to correct a tinsy mistake you made with the names. It´s not really super important, but Margaret is a MasaRWa, rather than a MasaWRa……it´s funny though, because I made the same sort of mistake with Dikeledi. In the beginning I always read her name Dikedeli, and it kind of stuck ;-)

  7. nkosi
    nkosi December 11, 2011 at 7:59 am |

    maru is definitely not likeable but then again most real life leaders are not. leaders portrayed in literature, movies tend to be likeable because the writer wants to champion some idea using that character. in this case, i don’t think bessie head necessarily wanted us to like maru or feel warm fuzzies about margaret finally ending up with maru( and not moleka). she was driving the point home that the reality of overcoming prejudice takes more than inviting one’s servants to the dinner table and eating from the same fork. maru has to literally create a new society and he hand-picks those that he deems to be worthy of being citizens of such a society and also those who have characters that would make a good foundation for such a society.
    those that thrive in the existing society – such as moleka, dikeledi – are left in the old society. he even connives to get moleka and dikeledi together because they are some of the best at what they do in that society. all the unsavory characters such as all the women who were after maru’s position, all the bigots who looked down upon margaret, the nurses who refused to wash the body of the dead “masarwa” women – all of them are left behind in the old society. the missionary margaret cadmore eventually leaves; the goat and her kid leave the village of abuse and go and live with margaret; the bus driver that transports margaret into the prejudiced society places margaret in the “good hands” of mistress dikeledi and then he leaves with the bus; maru is the next in line to be king but he can’t rule such a society – his dreams are bigger than their prejudices so he also leaves and he takes with him the few candidates that would be good seed for cultivating a new just society. that is also why he is constantly plagued by the fact that he can never know if his decision to take margaret away from moleka was the right decision. he can only let time tell which seeds will grow and which ones will not. he loves margaret but he is never sure if his love was the greater one – the better one – the one that does not lead to the destruction of the one character that is untainted by the warped society. as sure as he is of himself and his vision, he still cannot see the picture from the point of view of universe…..ie why are there men like moleka, why are there men like maru, why do even the purest of women still get attracted to men like moleka. remember margaret’s first encounter with moleka is not exactly a rosy walk in the park…why are there women who scheme for social position, why is it that men such as maru have to trick women into marrying them. why are people like dikeledi quite happy to accept the way things are even though they see the prejudices as clearly as maru, et cetera – hence his recurring nightmare.
    when we are introduced to moleka, it is clear that he thrives in that society. when we are introduced to dikeledi, it is also clear that she embraces her positions in that society – and the only men that is good enough for her is moleka. when we are introduced to maru, he is not liked by his servants. margaret has troubled introduction to the world. moleka and dikeledi belong and thrive in the current system. maru and margaret do not thrive in that system. so do maru and margaret stick around and accept the death plots and prejudice?

    so, i like maru as a character because in the end, he actually makes a stand against the whole village, he challenges moleka to come after him if his love is really superior – alas, moleka chooses the here and now. so, maru is not by any means perfect but then again moleka is not exactly a saint either. maru choses the future without prejudice in a new society. moleka choses the current society with all its flaws. i think it is a misconception to think that bessie head meant this to be a fairy tale. this story is very close to reality. there are no happy solutions to fighting injustice, prejudice and other such vices. the overcoming of such only be attained by those who are strong enough to make tough decisions even when those decisions are unpopular.

    would moleka really have left his womanizing ways and settled for a woman who didn’t care about social status?……if bessie head had ended the story with moleka and margaret together then it would have been a fairy tale

  8. Thamsanqa
    Thamsanqa May 28, 2014 at 2:54 am |

    Although this discussion ended a long time ago, I just felt I should also point some things out.

    THE NAMING OF CHARACTERS how they are linked with their behaviours

    Maru – Clouds. He was above the rest, he was a paramount chief.

    Moleka- The one who’s trying. Moleka never stopped pursuing after Margaret, he kept on trying despite being distracted by Maru & Dikeledi.

    Dikeledi- Tears. She was constantly in tears, seeing Moleka galavanting with other women.

    Ranko-(Nko = Nose) Nosey one- He was spying for Maru

  9. zoolaab
    zoolaab May 28, 2014 at 11:07 am |

    ii too had to re-read this book to get my head around what is truely being said, and ii found that this book has alot of emotive language in it. However ii do not quite understand why you failed to mention the impregnation of Dikaledi, ii think this has to do with the fact that she is your favourite character. ii found it tredgic that Moleka had to eventually go with Dikaledi when His love clearly belonged with Margeret. Oh and the correct spelling is Masarwa*

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