“You Can’t Get Lost In Cape Town” Lesson

Lesson for “You Can’t Get Lost in Cape Town”


“The Worm Did It” an article by Rob Nixon for the New York Times that is an ESSENTIAL read to help understand the story! It explains a reference when Frieda says, “Desire is a Tsafendas tapeworm in my belly that cannot be satisfied…” (77). Not only does it explain this reference, but I think Tsafendas’s story could be a strong connecting point to the story as a whole. The personal story of one of history’s strangest assassins offers a dark undercurrent to society’s positive view of global citizen.

Focus questions for our discussion: 

  • Wicomb is meticulous in her descriptions of setting: the bus, the city vs. the veld, Cape Point. How does the setting work with the narrative?
  • The story is supposed to be focused on Frieda’s situation, but it turns to the conversation between the two women on the bus before we as reader even understand Frieda’s situation. Why this interruption? What do we learn from the women’s conversation. How might that relate to Frieda’s story?
  • What is the significance of Michael’s directive “You can’t get lost in Cape Town” (73). What are some aspects being revealed about their relationship in that moment?
  • “And I too am not myself, hoping for refuge in a metaphor that will contain it all” (77). What are some metaphors that contend to represent Frieda’s entire situation? Or the political situation surrounding her as a woman in apartheid South Africa?
  • Compare fictional narrative to other artistic representations of apartheid that you might find here on this site or in your own explorations. Is there a way to theorize an artistic approach to this traumatic past?

carrie Mae williams: http://carriemaeweems.net/galleries/from-here.html


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