Transforming Moments by Gcina Mhlophe

Transforming Moments - Gcina-MhlopheIn Transforming Moments by Gcina Mhlophe we have the theme of insecurity, confidence, isolation, independence, identity, acceptance and change. Narrated in the first person it becomes clear to the reader from the beginning of the story that Mhlophe may be exploring the theme of insecurity and confidence. The narrator is worried about her self-image even going as far as describing her hair as being like ‘dry grass in winter.’ Which is an unflattering way to describe one’s hair. If anything the narrator feels not only insecure about how she looks but also lacks confidence. It may also be important that the narrator compares herself physically to how other girls look as this would again play on the theme of confidence or rather the lack of it. The fact that the other girls in the school tease the narrator about her looks (and boys) may also be significant as she is being isolated by her peers due to how she looks and feels about boys. The other girls don’t seem to be able to accept that the narrator has a right to be disinterested when it comes to boys. She is not following anyone’s lead. Though she is insecure about her looks she appears to have the ability to think for herself. There is also a sense that some of the boys in the narrator’s class dislike her due to her appearance and nothing else. If anything Mhlophe may be highlighting how shallow the male can be.

It may also be a case that Mhlophe is exploring the theme of independence. The narrator is not reliant on the opinions of the boys in her class and she also reads books that are not on her curriculum. This could be important as it suggests that despite the insecurity the narrator may feel due to her physical appearance when it comes to others and her academic endeavours she is quite free spirited. Again it seems to be that the narrator is able to think for herself. To be independent of others. It is also interesting that the narrator cannot understand why the young boy wishes to be her boyfriend. She again considers herself to be ugly and unfashionable yet does demonstrate the ability and confidence to become the boy’s girlfriend. If only to spite the other girls in her class. It is also possible that as the narrator finds it difficult to like herself she also finds it difficult to understand that somebody else might like her for who she is.

The narrator’s encounter with Father Fikeni may also be significant as through her engagement with him Mhlophe appears to be exploring the theme of acceptance. There is a sense that the narrator feels accepted by Father Fikeni. That she can be herself when she is around him and his family. The fact that Father Fikeni also brings the narrator to the village meeting suggests that she is being accepted by Father Fikeni. The praise poet also plays an important role in the story. For the narrator he is the impetus for change in her life. She is so overawed by the praise poet she decides to write her first poem when she returns to school. This may be important as for the first time in the story the narrator is beginning to not only change but have more confidence in herself.

This confidence is more noticeable in the last two paragraphs of the story. No longer is the narrator concerned about how she looks. By running her hands over her face she knows that she is beautiful in her own way. She is also no longer comparing herself to the other girls in her class. The fact that Mhlophe also uses imagery of a birth occurring could also be important because if anything the narrator is being reborn. She is more confident than she has been throughout the story and is no longer concerned about others taunting her over her looks or the fact that she does not play on the sports field. Some critics might also suggest that the hidden independence which the narrator displayed earlier in the story is actually coming to the forefront as the story ends. With the driving factor most likely being the acceptance that the narrator felt not only with Father Fikeni but with those in the village too. For the first time in the story the narrator feels as though she does not have to compete with others, so strong is the confidence she feels within herself. The fact that the narrator wants to read her poem to Father Fikeni may also be of some importance as it suggests that the narrator has something to look forward to. She sees hope for the first time in her life. The cock flapping his wings and crowing at the narrator may also have some symbolic significance. It is possible that Mhlophe is using the cock to symbolise not only excitement (flapping wings) but also the fact that the narrator has found her voice. No longer is she insecure and lacking confidence now that she knows and accepts who she is. Through Father Fikeni’s generosity and the praise poets way with words the narrator has found her voice and is excited about her life.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "Transforming Moments by Gcina Mhlophe." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 29 Jun. 2017. Web.

70 comments

  • Please. Can’t you also analyse poems for us? You are very good and your reviews are excellent.. E.g. sonnet 18, spring, to learn how to speak..

  • Can you explain the last paragraph on transforming moments?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Just so you know praise poetry is usually oral poetry and the poems created are to help young people understand who they are and were they come from. By listening to the praise poet the narrator begins to understand herself and her identity.

      The narrator has found a new lease of life. After listening to the praise poet she decides she too can become a praise poet. For the first time in the story the narrator feels free. So excited is the narrator about her future that she intends to tell Father Fikeni.

  • What is the theme of the short story “transforming moments”?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Nokukhany. The primary theme of Transforming Moments is identity. However there would also be some secondary themes which include isolation, independence, acceptance and change.

  • Nokukhanya Ndlazi

    In the opening paragraph the narrator describes her hair as”dry grass in winter “.Please explain this comparison, and say what it tells us about her self-image.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The narrator is looking upon her self-image in an unfavourable light. Which suggests that the narrator has concerns about how she looks. Though later in the story she is no longer concerned about how she looks and is happier in herself.

  • Why did the narrator think the good looking boy was crazy?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Thabiso. The narrator due to her insecurity couldn’t imagine that a boy, particularly a good-looking boy, would be interested in her.

  • What is a Resonant?.

    At the last sentence the narrator says “Across the fence a big red cock flapped its wings and crowed loudly at me, in agreement too”. What does that mean?

  • When does the transforming moment start?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      There is a sense of change when the narrator sees the praise poet. From that moment she gains a lot of confidence and sees a direction she can follow in her life.

  • Where does the problem start?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Victor. The problem starts with the fact that the narrator (at seventeen) doesn’t believe in herself.

  • The narrator’s confidence at the end outshines all the insecurities, low self esteem and all that stuff.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Pfunzo. I would agree with you. It is as though the narrator has grown as a person.

  • The narrator appreciated Bulelwa’s talent as a singer and says ‘I can listen to her all my life’. What does this tell us about the character?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Tanvi. It is possible that Mhlophe is suggesting that the narrator has the ability to appreciate talent. It is also possible that the narrator looks up to Bulelwa. Something that is noticeable a little later on in the story. When Bulelwa stands by the narrator when the other girls tease the narrator about not liking boys.

  • So why do you think she is able to appreciate others talent but not own? What causes this trait?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I think it may be because she is not only young but she is somewhat insecure about herself. She really doesn’t know her own identity. This only comes at the end of the story.

  • What does Father Fikeni do in order to play a role in the narrator changing her old ways

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment ODA. Father Fikeni takes the narrator out of her school environment and away from the girls who ridicule her. He takes her to visit his family in Tsolo. Which gives the narrator an opportunity to breathe and be free. Something that is noticeable when the narrator goes to see the praise poet.

  • I need help. The narrator compares the feeling of writing her first poem to the feeling of giving birth. Is this an effective comparison?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Nondumiso. It might be an effective comparison. Just as a pregnancy can have it’s difficulties and then the sense of relief when the child is born. It is very much the same for the narrator when she overcomes how she had lived her life. To what she became now. A praise poet.

  • Hi Dermot please help here. What figure of speech is this “My hair it is as dry grass in winter”?.. And this “I was forever buried in my books”? And can you pleas help me identify some of the other figure of speech in this short story that i might not be aware of. Thanks.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Nsina. The first quote is a simile. The second quote is a metaphor. I only came across one other figure of speech. ‘The winter sun seemed as lazy as we were (simile).

  • Who is the protagonist of the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Christinah. The narrator is the protagonist in the story. The story revolves around her.

  • Is there any irony in this short story??

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Ndodzo. The real irony in the story is the fact that the narrator over comes so many obstacles to achieve happiness.

  • Can you please summarize this story transforming moments in a simple way?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      A young school girl (the narrator) feels uncomfortable and insecure about how she looks, feels and how she interacts with the world. She is made to feel different by other girls in her class which lessens her confidence. Eventually through the help of a priest (Father Fikeni) she gets a boost in confidence when she sees a praise poet perform. It is after seeing the praise poet perform that the young girl realises that she too can be a praise poet. It is this realization that transforms the girl from being insecure about herself into a young confident woman.

  • Can u tell us the Moral of the short story “transforming moments’

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Mufunwa. The moral of the story may be that no matter how bad things are or how bad a person feels about themselves. There is also hope or light at the end of the tunnel.

  • And the symbolism of the story?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Some symbolism in the story includes the narrator’s school uniform. She doesn’t consider it to be as nice as the other girls. Which suggests that the narrator is concerned about self-image. The fact that the narrator thinks her voice is ugly suggests that she suffers from low self-esteem.

      The narrator feels very much at home while at Father Fikeni’s home which suggests the school environment may be causing the narrator troubles. She is a different person when she is with Father Fikeni.

      The strong looking short stick that the praise poet uses may be symbolism for strength. Also the fact that the narrator wants to become a praise poet symbolically and literally suggests she has found something in her life that makes her feel confident about herself.

  • Did the Narrator ultimately date (fall in love) with Sizwe?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Yes the narrator dated Sizwe and after he left school they remained good friends. However the narrator did not fall in love with Sizwe. Their relationship was more a friendship.

  • Is there a part two for this story?

  • The narrator seems to ‘cough’ out the chapter, what does she mean?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Thato. It is most likely that the narrator doesn’t want to make much noise as she may be scolded by others if she is too loud (it’s night time). Hence her saying a few words and then coughing and saying a few more words and coughing again.

  • Hi Dermot can you help me with this question what is the setting of this story and did the narrator have people she trusted who supported her. Also what does the cock at the end of the story symbolize.

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Siwaphiwe. The setting of the story is a boarding school. The narrator did not have anyone around her that she could trust or who supported her. She kept all her feelings inside so it would have been difficult for others to help her. Though Father Fikeni does help the narrator near the end of the story. The cock may symbolize strength. After the narrator writes her first praise poem. She hears the cock crowing as though he is in agreement with the narrator. No longer is the narrator insecure within herself.

  • What does she mean by “I used to describe it as dry grass in winter?”

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Khuthadzo. The narrator is talking about her hair. She is insecure about how it and she in general looks. Just as dry grass in winter would be out of place. So too does the narrator feel that her hair is out of place.

  • Where exactly and what happened for the narrator to change her mindset and what was the guy who played rugby that the narrator loved

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      The narrator made a connection with the praise poet and that is why her mindset changed. She saw that she loved what the praise poet was capable of and she too wanted to do as the praise poet was doing.

      The guy that the narrator dated was called Sizwe. He and the narrator remained friends after he left the school.

  • Please give me a straight forward summary of the story.

  • Can you help me with this question. Discuss why transforming moments can be seen as an autobiography?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Pinky. In some ways the story can be seen as autobiographical. Just as someone might write an autobiography about their life so too is the narrator bringing the reader through her life.

  • Why does Fikeni take the speaker with him to the village?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Father Fikeni may be trying to boost the narrator’s confidence. To show her that she too might like to become a praise poet. He knows that she is incurring difficulties from the other girls in school and may want to give the narrator some breathing space.

  • The speaker was from the poor family. Is it true or false support your answer?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      I’m not sure if the narrator’s parents are poor as they are never mentioned in the story. The narrator’s education is being paid for by her sister so there may be money in the family.

  • Can pls pls help me wth this question

    1. State whether the following statement is true or false “the speaker was from a poor family” support your answer.

    2. Discuss Father Fikeni and Mrs Fikeni’s characters

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Siphokaza. I don’ think the speaker is from a poor family. Her sister has the money to pay for her education. Father Fikeni appears to be a decent man and takes an interest in the speaker. Helping her to regain her confidence. While Mrs Fikeni seems to also be a decent woman. At least in the eyes of the speaker. Both Father Fikeni and Mrs Fikeni are also kind to the speaker.

  • What does the cock at the end of the story symbolize?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      It is possible that Mhlophe is using the cock to symbolise not only excitement (flapping wings) but also the fact that the narrator has found her voice. No longer is she insecure and lacking confidence now that she knows and accepts who she is.

  • Discuss Father Fikeni and Mrs Fikeni’s characters?

  • Thanks again

    Transforming moments only appeals to girls. Discuss

    2. Why does father Fikeni take the speaker with him to the village?

    3. Discuss why “Transforming moments”, can be seen as an autobiography

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      It’s not necessarily true that the story would appeal only to girls. It can also have an audience with boys who may feel similar emotions to that of the narrator.

      Father Fikeni is aware of the difficulties that the narrator is experiencing in school. So by taking her to his home he is allowing the narrator some breathing space. To regain her composure and confidence.

      In some ways the story can be seen as autobiographical. Just as someone might write an autobiography about their life so too is the narrator bringing the reader through her life.

  • Do u think this activity contributed to her growth?

    • Dermot (Post Author)

      Thanks for the comment Lovedonia. If you mean by visiting the praise poet then yes I do believe the narrator has grown as a person by looking at the praise poet in action.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *