Hunting by Bessie Head
In Hunting by Bessie Head we have the theme of patriarchy, fear, honesty, generosity, modernity and honour. Taken from her The Collector of Treasures collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and from the beginning of the story the reader realises that Head may be exploring the theme of patriarchy. It is the men who do the hunting in July and not the women. They are left to stay in the village and to cook the prey when it is caught. Similarly when it comes to relationships some men are seen to walk away after a sexual relationship with a woman. They appear to use women for their own gain rather than marrying the women and starting a family with them. This is significant as some men might consider a woman tarnished should she have a child outside marriage. However thankfully this is not the case for Tholo when it comes to Thato. He decides to begin a relationship with Thato regardless of the fact that she has a child by another man.
The theme of fear is also evident in the story. The men fear that Tholo will not go hunting and that they will have to go alone. Without the benefit of Tholo’s tractor. Also Thato pushes Tholo for a relationship. It is she who does the chasing after having a dream. She is after all older than Tholo. She might also be afraid that she will lose Tholo if she does not suggest to him that she is pregnant with his child. This is a driving factor in Tholo marrying Thato. He knows that he has to do the right thing and if anything he is acting honorably. It might also be important that Tholo is genuinely interested in Thato, he loves her.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. Tholo’s tractor could be seen to symbolize prosperity. He has the only tractor in the village and he is generous when it comes to helping others. He does not let the men down when they want to go hunting and he also ploughs Thato’s mother’s land. The fact that Thato lies to Tholo about being pregnant could be symbolic. It highlights how the older Thato judges marriage. To her it is an important step in a woman’s life. It also suggests that Thato is afraid of being alone and remaining single. She feels as though the only option she has is to trap Tholo.
The end of the story is interesting as it is clear that Tholo’s family do not like Thato. They think she is too old for Tholo and they may not be wrong. There is also a sense of modernity when it comes to the arrangements for Thato and Tholo’s wedding. They are organising it themselves. No longer do the parents of the bride and groom arrange or organize a marriage. It is left to the couple themselves. The fact that Thato and Tholo are generous people could contribute to the success of the marriage. True, Thato has lied at the beginning but she has been a good wife to Tholo. She has been there for him and he has been there for her. Where some would never consider marrying a woman who has a child by another man. This is not the case with Tholo. He looks upon Thato’s child as being his own and does not hold any grudges towards Thato. It is for this reason that Tholo is well liked in the village. He is a generous, kind and considerate man. Who does not mind helping others.