Powerful and disturbing

2012-01-25 00:00

EVE is written by Sandra Charles, who left the Cape in her teens, but whose novel is rooted in the world of the Cape Flats with such authenticity that it smacks of lived experience.

The smells and sights of Kensington in the second half of the 20th Century come to life as Eve, aged five in 1962, finds that most men around her don’t know how to relate to a bright girl child. When her adored father beats her when she laughs at a rude joke he makes with friends, even though she doesn’t understand it, her relationship with men is permanently skewed.

She notices that some men give her sweets or money if she lets them watch her in a certain way. She soon learns to manipulate them and funds her family’s need for luxuries by trying on clothes in the old Jewish shopkeeper’s changing rooms. His desire to watch her through half-opened curtains ensures she gets cigarettes for her father to buy his affection. Her mother, embittered by poverty and endless child­bearing, never asks why her young daughter always has money for treats.

When Eve is in Grade 7, an art teacher comes to their school. He relates to the pupils in a way no one ever has. She is smitten. She works at her art night and day to catch his attention. Unfortunately for her, he notices her obsession with him. The 34-year-old doesn’t ignore the 12-year-old’s crush as any sane teacher would. He finds ways to be alone with her, and it is sickly inevitable that her childish ­infatuation leads to rape. She endures his unwanted attentions for two years, until she tells a friend what’s happening. The whole family confronts the teacher in his home, but Eve is the one who is branded.

This is a deeply uncomfortable story at times. What is most important about it, however, is how a girl’s self worth is so often defined by her sexuality. It’s an indictment on ­society that the inadequacies of men around her force the young girl into an untenable position. Powerful and disturbing, this is a novel that had to be written to show that emancipation for women is impossible without men changing their views.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.