The Smell of Apples

The Smell of Apples

Author: Mark Behr

First published: 1993

Main Characters:

Marnus Erasmus: He is a twelve year old boy and lives with his family in Cape Town, South Africa.

Message: Children are easy to manipulate. Their parents can make them into tolerant adults or to adults with prejudices.

Quotations: "Dad says the problem is that all the best blacks were taken away by the slave merchants. The blood that was left in Africa was the blood of the dumber blacks- that is why vou will not find an educated black anywhere.", p.66

"The Communists muddle up people´s brains so in the end you can´t trust anybody. The Communists indoctrinate everyone.", p.81

Personal statements: It is interesting to see problems of the Apartheid in South Africa with the perspective of a white child.

Short summary: This book is about the Apartheid system in South Africa in the later sixties from the perspective of a white African boy.                     

Marnus Erasmus is a twelve-year-old boy who lives in the later sixties with his family in Cape Town, South Africa. The Erasmus live as a white family in a country which is mostly inhabited by coloured people. The white people rule South Africa and Marnus`s father is an important general in the army. The white population in South Africa descended from the British immigrants, who came while the country was a colony of Great Britain, and the Boers, who are descendants of the Dutch settlers.

Marnus grows up in believing that black people are second class people. He has got only bad encounters with these human beings. The reason why Marnus´s father does not like black people is because his father, Marnus´s grandfather, and his family were driven away and were expropriated by the black masses from Tanganyika, today´s Tansania. They fled to South Africa and turned it with the white population into a modern state. Now Marnus´s father thinks that the black people are going to destroy all that they have built and the white people have to prevent that and have to control the coloured masses. Marnus´s best friend is Frikkie, who is also white. They attend the same school and every minute in their free time they meet each other. In the summer holidays Frikkie stays with Marnus in the summer house of the Erasmus´s. There the father of Marnus often meets generals from other countries. He tells Marnus that he is not allowed to tell anybody else that there is a soldier from another country. He says to his son that he shall call the visitors Mr. Smith. This summer a Mr. Smith from Chile visits the family. At dinner Marnus´s father and the general speak about the political situation in the world.

Mr. Smith says that he is relieved that his army has overthrown the government of Allende because he cooperated with the Communists. Marnus´s father tells the general that also South Africa is in a very bad position because the world is against his country. He explains that the other states are against them because they say that white people discriminate against the coloured population.

Marnus has an agreement with Frikkie that they will tell each other all the secrets. That is why Marnus ignores his father´s warning not to tell anybody what they speak with Mr. Smith. Marnus says Frikkie that the whole world is against South Africa and that the coloured people are to blame for that.

One night Marnus wakes up and he notices that Frikkie is not in his bed. He goes downstairs and he hears strange noise out of the room of Mr. Smith. He quietly open the door just for some centimetre and he sees that his father is raping Frikkie but he thinks it is Mr. Smith who is doing this to Marnus. Marnus is confused because he does not grasp what Mr. Smith is doing to Frikkie. First he runs to his father´s bedroom but his father is not there. Then Marnus decides to go to bed and he does not say one word to anybody, neither to Frikkie. On the next day he asks Frikkie if something happened in the night but Frikkie does not tell Marnus anything. Frikkie says that he will go home and he does not want to stay longer. First Marnus is a little bit angry at his friend because they have an agreement but then he understands him and he says to him that they will be friends forever.                                                                                                                                                                                                  


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