Rain by Richard Rive
In Rain by Richard Rive we have the theme of love, betrayal, selfishness, innocence, hope, desperation and compassion. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator it becomes clear to the reader after reading the story that Rive may be exploring the theme of love. Siena is desperate to find Joseph. She has heard rumours that he has been with other women and she wants to know for sure. This is significant as if Joseph is betraying Siena it will break her heart and she may never progress further than Teslaarsdal. A rural community where Siena lives. However the options she has of living in District Six with Joseph are not that attractive either. Joseph likes women and likes being in their company. If anything he may be a ladies man. Thinking only of his own needs. Which may suggest to some readers that Joseph is selfish and does not love Siena the way she loves him.
The internal conflict that Siena feels over Joseph is matched by the external conflict of the fight between Joseph and Marian’s boyfriend. Joseph is left beaten up and bleeding in the gutter. Solly too is an interesting character as we do not really get an insight into how he thinks. Apart from the fact that he likes it when Siena calls him ‘baas.’ Solly imagines himself in a bow tie and suit. Far removed from the t-shirt and apron he is wearing in the fish and chip shop. If anything Solly allows for his ego to get the better of him. Solly is also exceptionally rude to customers and people coming into the shop. Whether this is his natural position is difficult to say as again as readers we do not really get an insight into how Solly thinks.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. District Six is described as being dark and lit by neon signs while Teslaarsdal has ‘the lazy sun and laughter.’ This could highlight the fact that those in Teslaarsdal are innocent in comparison to those who live in District Six. In reality Teslaarsdal is a nicer place than District Six. The rain easing up briefly could represent hope for Siena. A hope she has that Joseph is not with another woman. The repetitive nature of Solly’s words in the fish and chip shop may also mirror the gossip or the repetitiveness of the stories that people have told Siena about Joseph and his wayward behaviour. The fact that Siena pleas with the police officer to let Joseph go shows how desperate she is to hold onto Joseph.
The end of the story is interesting as Solly shows a more compassionate side to himself when he suggests to Siena that she can have a free fish and chips and can stay in the shop until it stops raining. This is important because it is the only occasion in the story that Solly is highlighted in a positive light. However it is possible that Solly has underhanded motives (sexual) as he does find Siena attractive. The fact that Siena leaves the shop is significant as she may be following Joseph to the police station. She may simply be in denial about what he has done. Just as rain can blur a person’s vision so too can love. Siena may remain in love with Joseph despite the fact that he has cheated on her.