Flight by Sindiwe Magona
In Flight by Sindiwe Magona we have the theme of connection, tradition, freedom, fear, desperation and determination. Narrated in the first person by an unnamed woman who is looking back on an incident when she was a child it becomes clear to the reader after reading the story that Magona may be exploring the theme of connection. The narrator feels connected to her aunt. Though she has only known her for a short period of time there is still nonetheless a sense of connection. It is as though the narrator is aware of how hard her aunt has to work for her uncle and as such the narrator sympathizes with her aunt. What is also interesting about the story is the fact that the aunt appears to be following in the traditions of the village. She is treated as no more than a servant by those who know her and it may be a case that Magona is highlighting the position of women in the village. How they are forced to follow or adhere to the rules of a patriarchal society. Something which the aunt by running away is not prepared to do. Though newly married she has a preference to be free rather than to be tied down to her husband’s rules.
There is also no doubting that the aunt is afraid. She has the men of the village chasing her and she knows that should she not be able to run away and escape. She will only be returned to the village and forced to do what she does not wish to do. That being live her life as a servant to her husband and his family. It is as though the only thing that the aunt can do is to run away in order to express how she really feels about the situation she finds herself in. The narrator is also afraid knowing that her aunt is trying to free herself from the life she finds herself in. Magona describing to the reader the physical pain that the narrator feels when she sees her aunt being chased by the men in the village. How urgent the task at hand may be is noticeable by the fact that the narrator while looking at her aunt running away cannot see any ‘part of her body making contact with the ground.’ This line may be significant as it further highlights to the reader the sense of desperation that the aunt may feel.
It might also be worth noting that the aunt is determined not to be caught by the men in the village. She is only too aware that should she be caught her life will continue to be miserable. Marriage is not what the aunt thinks it may be. She has been married through a traditional method of having her husband chosen for her. She has had no say in who she would like to marry. Which again highlights to the reader just how dominant the male was in society (in the village). It may also be a case that by retelling the tale of the aunt the narrator is expressing not only the connection she feels she has with her aunt but she may be in one with her aunt as an adult. As a child she may not have fully understood what was happening but as an adult. Events are crystal clear to the narrator. She knows exactly what has happened and why it has happened. By telling the story of her aunt the narrator has given herself a voice as an adult and may be keen not to follow the traditions of the village.
There is also a sense of relief at the end of the story for the narrator. Knowing that her aunt has escaped from the village. It is as though she has willed her aunt to be successful in her attempts to escape from the life that was forced upon her. A life in which she had no say or voice. The aunt was expected to live her life in silence and accept everything that came her way. Even if she was being treated more like a servant than as a wife. In many ways the story is a warning to those who believe in a male dominated society. By having the aunt run away and the narrator finding her voice. The two women in the story have been empowered. The aunt knows that she has found freedom away from a marriage she did not agree to and the narrator has most likely set boundaries for herself. In whereby she knows what she does and doesn’t want in life. A lesson has been learnt by the two main protagonists. One that the narrator will never forget even if she is unsure as to how she feels about her uncle who has lost his wife.