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Blood Knot


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A: Athol Fugard Pf: 1961, Johannesburg Pb: 1963; rev. 1987 G: Drama in 7 scenes S: One-room shack in non-white settlement near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, c.1960 C: 2mZachariah works hard all day and comes home to be looked after by his fastidious brother Morris, who keeps house for him. Morris dreams of their setting up together on a small farm, but Zach is more immediately concerned that he has not had a woman since Morris moved in with him a year ago. Morris suggests a pen pal for Zach and composes a letter for his illiterate brother to send to Ethel, whose name they take from an advertisement in the newspaper. When a reply comes, Morris is horrified to discover that Ethel is white and is convinced that this ‘game’ will lead to disaster. When Ethel then writes that she will visit Zach, the brothers panic, fearing retribution from the whites. Zach suggests that Morris should meet her, because he is sufficiently light-skinned to pass for a white. Zach uses the money set aside for their farm to buy a smart suit for Morris to meet Ethel in. Morris tries on the clothes, and disconcerts Zach by beginning to behave like a white man. Morris is planning to leave, when a letter comes from Ethel saying that she is getting married. Relieved, the brothers play a game. Morris wears the suit, acts like a vicious white, and the brothers confront each other violently across the racial divide. Frightened by their own emotions, they remind each other that they are brothers, tied by a blood knot.

A: Athol Fugard Pf: 1961, Johannesburg Pb: 1963; rev. 1987 G: Drama in 7 scenes S: One-room shack in non-white settlement near Port Elizabeth, South Africa, c.1960 C: 2m

This was the play that established Fugard's reputation as the leading South African playwright, a reputation he exploited in 1963 to initiate a writers' boycott of South Africa. With gentle comedy, moving lyricism, and acute observation, he shows how apartheid reaches into the lives of ordinary people, inducing fear and viciousness.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Athol Fugard (b. 1932) South African dramatist


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