Intro to Epigraphs

Nicole Francis and Annmarie Vincenzo


a quotation set at the beginning of a literary work or one of its divisions to suggest its theme
The Wire - Characters Saying the Opening Quotes

Albert Luthuli, 1960 Nobel Peace Prize winner

"I, as a Christian, have always felt that there is one thing above all about "apartheid" or "separate development" that is unforgivable. It seems utterly indifferent to the suffering of individual persons, who lose their land, their homes, their jobs, in the pursuit of what is surely the most terrible dream in the world."

Once the South Africans escape apartheid, they are still not treated fairly. Racism will always exist, whether it's prominent or subdued. Though segregation is gone, racism still prevails worldwide. People who aspire to escape poverty will always face judgement in their new role.

Mathabane still faces racism like other Africans in prominently white countries. Though he has escaped South Africa, his family still continues to live through the hardships Africans face. Apartheid has "ended", but the memory and habits still remain.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Mask of Anarchy

"Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number-

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you-

Ye are many — they are few"

Demonstrates South Africans' stand towards their oppressors, a call to action for the oppressed. Do not be held back by the government, have courage to stand up.

Mark had to have courage to escape the apartheid in South Africa. He overcame the "mean whites" holding him back, and followed the one path out: an education.

Frederick Douglass

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

Reminds us of Eleanor Roosevelt's quote, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Oppression only exists with submission. If the people rebel, the tyrant has no control over anything. Another call to action, encouraging the people to stand up for their rights.

The people of South Africa submitted to the African government, allowing them to control their homelands. They tried to rebel, but did not have the knowledge or power to succeed.

John Milton

"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties."

You can take away all my liberties and freedoms, just don't take away my freedom of speech.

Mathabane's "weapon of choice" was to fight with words and not guns. He saw the danger of gangs and how ineffective riots were against police, so Mathabane chose to get an education and fight apartheid with his words.

Mark's Freedom

"I was a fool all right, but I was a fool of my own free will. I was not prepared to prostitute myself for food or money. I would rather have died than do that….

Throughout all the years that I lived in South Africa, people were to call me a fool for refusing to live life the way they did and by doing the things they did. Little did they realize that in our world, the black world, one could only survive if one played the fool, and bided his time. (Mathabane 126)"

Discussion Questions

1. What are some themes of Kaffir Boy?

2. How are these quotes similar or different?

3. Why did Mathabane choose these quotes to start his book? What difference do they make?

4. What other quotes relate to a theme used in Kaffir Boy or another book we have read this year?

5. What are some other books that use epigraphs?

Works Cited

Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth's Coming of Age in Apartheid South Africa. New York: Macmillan, 1986. Print.

"Epigraph.", n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2013.

"The Wire - Characters Saying the Opening Quotes." YouTube. YouTube, 11 Oct. 2010. Web. 13 Feb. 2013.