The Wind and a Boy by Bessie Head
In The Wind and a Boy by Bessie Head we have the theme of gender roles, pride, loyalty, change and modernity. 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 gender roles. Both the boys and girls in the village do different things, things which would mostly be associated with their sex. The boys hunt while the girls do household chores. It is also noticeable when the rain comes that the boys have easy prey. Life is that little bit easier on them. The young boys also appear to live their life as they see fit, unlike the girls. What is also interesting is the fact that should a woman in the village want to work outside the home it is only possible if they travel and leave their children (or child) with a relative. Which is very much the case when it comes to Sejosenye’s daughter. In order to pursue a career she had to leave Friedman with his grandmother. The fact that Sejosenye takes Friedman everywhere with her, unlike the other people in the village also suggests that not only is there a close bond between grandmother and grandchild but Sejosenye is also proud of her grandson. She is the apple of his eye.
It is also interesting that Sejosenye can plough the land and she appears to be the only woman in the village who is able to do so. This may be important as it shows that Sejosenye is not only a physically strong woman but she does not care what others in the village think about her. She is her own strong independent woman. Even when the rain is light Sejosenye ploughs the field much to the admiration of the other women in the village. It is also noticeable that the women (and girls) in the village are not expected to have an education, unlike the boys. This may be important as Head could be putting a spotlight again on the roles between men and women in the village. Woman again were expected to get married and look after the home and children. There is no sense of equality between the sexes.
There is also no doubting that Friedman is loyal to his grandmother. Something that his noticeable when he travels with her to her lands twenty miles outside the village. Just as Sejosenye is there for Friedman, Friedman likewise is there for his grandmother, working the land. Symbolically the bicycle may also be important as it gives Friedman more freedom. Not only is he able to do chores for his grandmother but he also has time to travel further than the village and explore. However it may be important to remember that the bicycle is the instrument that leads to Friedman’s death. An innocent gift from his mother leads to his untimely death. Though the bicycle can give Friedman freedom it can also take it away from him. Which is very much the case in the story. A young boy’s life needlessly cut short by the ignorance of others (civil servant).
The end of the story is also interesting as Head through Friedman’s death appears to be exploring the theme of change and modernity. Though the village still needs wooden ploughs to plough the land the cities have grown bigger and more and more people have cars and trucks. The car that killed Friedman was driven by a man who did not hold a driving licence. Head suggesting that such is the pace of growth or change that the man never had time to get a license. It is also possible that driving was unregulated with anybody being allowed to drive a car or a truck. It is these changes that have brought a cruel change to Sejosenye life. He beloved grandson has been killed and she has been sent to hospital with shock. A shock that will end up killing her. Through the reality is that Sejosenye may have died of a broken heart. The fact that the driver of the car was a civil servant (working for the government) may also have some significance and Head may be using the civil servant as symbolism for the government and the lack of care that they may have for the people in the village (country). There may be two classes of people in the country. The poor in the village and the wealthy who live by no rules and live in the city governing the country. There is no real connection between the two classes. The only connection that occurs between them in the story is the fact that Friedman has lost his life to a civil servant who was driving an unlicensed car. Though it is not clearly stated there is also a sense that the car driver has no remorse. He may care very little for a young boy who is beneath his class.