Book Reviews David Evans: A Touch of the Sun

David Evans: A Touch of the Sun

David Evans:  A Touch of the Sun

In A Touch of the Sun, the protagonist, a young man growing up in apartheid South Africa, is a racist.  There is no attempt in the novel to deny that ordinary people living in South Africa conformed to the values that prevailed under a racist government. There is no attempt to ingratiate by pretending that such racism was simply the result of social conditioning or presenting a protagonist anguished by the moral dilemmas of living in a racist society.   There is no attempt to excuse Simon Brown's belief in his racial superiority. The people who surround him, members of his family and friends of his mother and sister, challenge his attitudes and make him aware that what he believes is not generally acceptable. The friends with whom he chooses to associate are chosen because they affirm his racist beliefs. But he cannot really respect them.  The personal conflicts that he experiences in trying to reconcile these groups of people eventually change him and he learns to recognise that prejudice is inhuman. 

In a situation of prejudice, one's sense of superiority depends on one's ability to relegate others to an inferior position on the grounds of colour, race, creed, class, gender, age, disability etc.  There is no innate sense of worth.  And the slightest characteristic that one possesses in common with the inferior groups, leaves one with feelings of insecurity and makes one question one's self-worth.  In Simon's case, he feels forced to prove himself when challenged even when the odds are against him and this tempers the rabid racism towards which insecurity steers him. One does not get the sense that he is capable of love, except for his sister, and he stands outside of his relationships as an observer. His choice of occupation as journalist is apt but he never discovers the satisfaction of knowing that Coloured people are the future of South Africa.

Simon's development is played out against such historical milestones as the Defiance Campaign, the Sharpeville massacre, the banning of the ANC and PAC and guerrilla warfare.

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