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Friday, March 1, 2013

Philida


André Brink’s Philida was on the2012 Man Booker Longlist. It is 1832 in South Africa, a year before slaves are freed in 1834. It took America until 1865 and Mississippi until just the other day, February 21, 2013. This story has many narrators, but mostly, Philida, a slave woman. She is subject to the lustful ways of her owners son, Frans. She has four children of his over time.  Two survive. Shoes are the symbol of freedom and her feet are a symbol of his love for her. Freed slaves wear shoes, slaves go barefoot. Philida goes to the courts to complain about the broken promise Frans had made to free her. He lies and that changes everything as far as he is concerned, but not for her as she comes to really realize her life as a slave. Philida is a willful person and a proud woman. She knows that there is better out there and she is taking risks to wait for her freedom and to find a better place with her two children.
I truly identify with Philida. I worked for many years and was told what to do and what I couldn’t do. Then I retired and was set free just as Philida is set free. With this kind of freedom come risks and choices. As she slowly begins to understand her freedom, “But saying, I know, is always easier than doing.” She is a doer. There are those around her who are not doers. She learns about time, not rushing, weighing choices, and the biggest of all, “I.”
I found it serendipitous that “DJango, Unchained” is playing now and helps me with the visualization.
This is a great story about something we take for granted, FREEDOM.

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