There is not much action in the story, with most conflict being in the narrator herself. However, the narrator does interact with her work colleagues (being thought stupid for reading) and with her sister. Her main interaction is with her stories, with any form of literature and with her own writings. Just like the novelist and poet Emily Dickinson, the narrator believes You are never alone with a good book’. It Is through her reading that she finds her own character and individuality, but she also finds escapism from the monotonous life she leads In a vided Apartheid society.
In her books, she finds a place where she belongs and where she can find solitude and peace. The short story starts with the narrator being depressed ‘Sometimes I wanted to give up… ‘ having no true identity in a world where she does not belong which contrasts to the ending ‘l accepted that the toilet was not mine after all… And wrote my story anyway. ‘ This is reminiscent of Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’: a man whose words were banned and outlawed in his home, but he told his story anyway.
The story reinforces the fact that our voices are the cost powerful tool we will ever have and that reading can help find our voices and our character. Who? Narrator: She is the teenager who is struggling to find her place in a world that doesn’t want her. For much of the story she remains unnamed, placing herself as unimportant, reminiscent of Apartheid South Africa where black Africans were deemed ‘UN-human’ and therefore unworthy of an identity. However, in being unnamed she also acts as an ‘everyman’, representing the black African youth from South Africa.
She becomes a true heroine. Throughout the story the narrator faces inflict within herself. She feels loneliness; ‘l was very bored and lonely and longs to socialism with other people; ‘l looked forward to meeting new people… ‘ and she is conflicted with her elders’ expectations of her. As a youngster she is influenced by her elders ‘a good girl who listened to her elders’ but she Wanted something different’, ‘[she] thought a lot about acting’. This also stems Into the expectations of her as a female with her sister asking her ‘ ‘What kind of wife will you make…? The narrator does not define her gender as a wife and mother, but as an individual with a loco Tanat seen longs to use. I en conflict extends Into near social Tie as seen Talents wit her sister. Her sister is forced to keep her presence secret, which undermines the narrator’s life – she is not a recognized human being. This leads to fighting and irritation; at the end the sister is not in her room, and the narrator is forced to wander the streets after being discovered waiting for her sister outside the room.
The only place that the narrator feels comfort and peace is within the toilet at the park. Even though this is a cold and small place, its size gives her comfort and the rivalry gives her peace of mind; it is the one place she can be herself and read without Judgments from others. Irene: We are told that Irene is the English name for the narrator’s sister. This immediately gives her an identity as the maid to the white African family because her own name is forgotten and not used because she herself is deemed an unimportant person in society.
Her role is to contrast the character of the narrator; she is a traditional black African worker in an Apartheid South Africa. She believes a woman should be a good wife and mother, not following her own dreams and aspirations. She is a hard worker and has settled with the belief that this is all she will achieve. Irene conforms to the society in which she is living, and we see no evidence that she even uses her imagination to escape this imprisonment.
She continues to hide the narrator in her room to avoid confrontations from her employers; she conforms to avoid losing her Job. In this way, her Job could be seen as her identity. Madam: The reader is introduced to the white female employer at the end of the story, but we are told of her socializing and laughing with friends during the day which contrasts against the lives of both the orator and Irene. When we finally meet Madam, she is portrayed as a doll; a person whose life does not interfere with her looks and beauty, suggesting she does not work.
When she sees the narrator sat outside the sister’s room, she does not call the dogs away but meets her with a smile, which confuses the narrator: ‘She scared me – I couldn’t understand how she could smile like that but not want me to stay in her house. ‘ She is friendly, but within the limits of an Apartheid society. This is reinforced by the presence of the dogs; Madam explains that the dogs will not bite – hey are a power that is actually harmless, a representation of Apartheid South Africa. The Toilet: Even though the toilet is an inanimate object, it has its own character and being.
She describes the toilet as ‘For some reason it was never locked… ‘. The narrator feels this is a place she can belong without hiding and a place that is always open to her. She explains it was ‘quite clean compared too many ‘Non- European’ toilets… The floor was painted red and the walls were cream-white. ‘ Even the toilet has an identity that compares with the Apartheid society in which they live. The colors are also important because they contrast vividly to the reader; red and white – red symbolizing anger and white symbolizing purity and innocence; a metaphor for the narrator’s conflict and state of mind.
Even as the narrator develops her own identity, the toilet had been renovated with a new door and window, an inclination that our narrator is becoming a fuller character. Acing Moloch: The author to our short story was born in Hammerheads, Aka-Zulu Natal and is now living in Johannesburg. She is a writer of various titles and genres, including children’s fiction. In 2001, she developed a CD and book entitled ‘Nonacid Mother of Books’ which became an initiative to develop reading in rural South African schools.
She has contributed to preserving ten SKI AT story telling Ana Delves It Is an Important Tort to keeping history alive. Themes Belonging – Belonging is a key theme to Employee’s short story ‘The Toilet’. From the beginning, the narrator feels isolated from society in which she is living. She is living in her sister’s home as a hideaway: she resides with her sister in the house cleaner’s quarters without the permission of the employers. She has no place to call her own, and as such, she feels disembodied from the society she lives in.
At home she is unwelcome by the sister’s employers, her sister also gets annoyed with the narrator’s presence and at work she is called a ‘barb’ for her unusual way of life (she likes reading) and disregards the traditional ways of life. She does not want to follow the elder’s way of life and become a good mother and wife, but instead dreams of being an actress. The only time the narrator feels like she belongs is when she is isolated away from the outside world, in the toilet. It is only with her books and with her own writings that she feels identity to another world.
Loneliness: The theme of loneliness is strongly linked to the theme of belonging. The narrator immediately sets the theme of loneliness by commenting that ‘Sometimes I wanted to give up… ‘; the narrator feels despair and comments that ‘I was bored and lonely. ‘ In the factory where she words, she is further alienated because she does not speak Sotto and is again isolated from her peers. However, the novels and stories she reads, ending with her confidence in being an individual, soothe her loneliness ND sitting on her own in the park to write her stories when she discovers the toilet is locked.
Her loneliness is cured by literature and reading. Conflicts Within the narrator’s self – The narrator experiences a lot of conflict within the story, mostly within herself. She starts with feeling lonely and wanting to socialism but having found peers to converse with at a local factory where she is working, she feels even further isolated because she does not speak Sotto. She has mixed feelings between wanting to fit into a society and wanting to find her own individual voice; a choice that she develops in her writing.
The narrator also feels conflicted with society expectations of her; becoming a ‘good girl who listened to her elders’ or following her dream of becoming an actress; ‘l thought a lot about acting… ‘ and reading. Her sister thought [she] was reading too much’ and mimics her by saying ‘l suppose you will marry an educated man like yourself, who won’t mind going to bed with a book and an empty stomach. ‘ This is also in contrast to the narrator’s desires because society dictates she should marry and be a good wife, which the narrator wows no desire for.
The narrator and her sister – Even though the sisters share a strong bond, they bicker because the narrator is a hide-away and her presence must be hidden. The sister becomes irritated because she does not awaken as soon as the alarm goes off, and she leaves the door open for a while when she leaves to bathe in the morning. When the narrator remains outside the room waiting for her sister and is discovered by the employer, the sister becomes irritated and shouts at her Why don’t you come in, stupid? She ridicules her sister for not being a good ‘secret’.
The narrator and the employer – The narrator experiences conflict with the employer, wanly Is mostly unseen, Just Tell. As a annually, seen Is Immediately In conflict welt the employer. However, when the two meet (although briefly), the narrator feels alienated because the employer refuses to stop the dogs barking. The employer uses dogs as a power, but she herself admits that the dogs are nothing to be scared of. Perhaps this is a comment on apartheid society; white Africans use their power against black Africans, but the power itself is nothing to fear.
The narrator and society – The narrator has mixed feelings as she is living in a society to which she struggles to conform. She is an outsider as she cannot speak the language of her peers at the factory, she does not want to be a domestic worker as dictated by an Apartheid South African system and she cannot read publicly because society states this is not within her ‘race’s’ ability. The toilet is the only place she can be herself, and develop her own character. As she gains confidence by reading, she learns that her voice is the most important tool she has.
When her confidence soars, and the toilet becomes locked after its refurbishment, banishing her from her room for escapism, she feels strong enough to write her stories outside in the park publicly. Perhaps Moloch is suggesting that society is changing and black South Africans were finding their voice in education, and would soon find the confidence to use it. Social, Historical Context and Style The short story is based in Apartheid South Africa, which segregated white Africans as superior to black South Africans. This is key as it provides a societal background to he themes and characters in the short story.
There is a lack of descriptive writing, the only time the author describes her setting is while in the toilet. The toilet is important and is therefore described, to give the reader a real perception of her only sanctuary. The use of oral storytelling is evident as she focuses on important details, and she does not develop unimportant characters. The focus of the story is on the narrator and her emotions; and like traditional fairy tales there is a moral to the story – education and reading are the key to a person’s freedom and independence.
The moral is clear; at the end when the toilet is locked and the narrator no longer has her own sanctuary, she finds comfort in the society where she is alienated because she has her books. The setting is important because it reinforces the narrator’s alienation. A toilet is the place we get rid of waste, where we spend as little time as possible and the place we find complete privacy. However, the narrator finds comfort in this undesirable place; it is an unusual place to find sanctuary but reinforces the choices available to a black African in an apartheid society.