The perpetrator's narrative and myth : a study of Country of my skull and Ubu and the Truth Commission

Malherbe, Lisa Susan (2002-12)

Thesis (M.A.)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The reconstruction of history from individual narratives heard by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) urged society to reconsider the meaning of history as a construction based on personal memory. In fact, the TRC's attempt to unveil the past in order to encourage social reconciliation raised many questions of this nature. As a result, the socio-political issues associated with the hearings inspired a movement in literature that addressed these issues specifically. This thesis investigates the depiction of perpetrators in Country of My Skull and Ubu and the Truth Commission as examples of Truth and Reconciliation literature. Apart from functioning as important sources of commentary on the socio-political debate surrounding the TRC, these texts explore a range of questions concerning the relationship between memory, history and narrative. I wish to argue that the perpetrators portrayed in the texts are deluded by myths concerning power and masculinity. Comforting self-deceptions underlie their reconstructions of history, complicating the notion of truth and effecting the construction of history in the wider TRe context. The perpetrator's narrative, as a significant component of the testimony of the IRC hearings reveals a manipulation of the truth which results in perpetrators evading responsibility for their actions. This occurrence has implications for victims as well as they try to reconcile their personal versions of the truth with alternative versions. I conclude that the conflict between the narratives of the victim and the perpetrator is often a confrontation of cultures that exposes the myths underlying the perpetrator's manipulation of the truth.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Waarheids en Versoenings Kommissie (WVK) het hulle beroep op 'n hersamestelling van die geskiedenis wat gebaseer was op individuele vertellings van die verlede. Dit het beteken dat die geskiedenis gebaseer is op persoonlike geheue. In die samelewing het die behoefte ontstaan om die definisie van 'geskiedenis' te heroorweeg. Die WVK se poging om die verlede bloot te lê het verskeie soortgelyke sosiale vraagstukke laat ontstaan. Die sosio-politieke kwessies waarmee die WVK verhore geassosieer word het 'n beweging in die letterkunde geïnspireer wat spesifiek hierdie kwessies aanspreek. Hierdie tesis ondersoek die uitbeelding van geweldplegers in twee Waarheids en Versoenings-tekste, Country of My Skull en Ubu and the Truth Commission. Behalwe dat hierdie tekste belangrike bronne is van kommentaar op die sosio-politieke debat rondom die WVK, speel hulle ook 'n rol as tekste wat 'n verskeidenheid vrae oorweeg in verband met die verhouding tussen geheue, geskiedenis en vertellings. Ek stel voor dat die geweldplegers in die twee tekste mislei word deur mites wat magstrukture en manlikheid onderskryf. Die geweldplegers se hersamestellings van hul persoonlike geskiedenis word gebaseer op self-bedrog, wat dan die begrip 'waarheid' kompliseer en die konstruksie van geskiedenis in die wyer WVK-konteks beïnvloed. Die geweldplegers se vertellings vorm 'n noemenswaardige komponent van die getuienis van die WVK-verhore. Die vertellings ontbloot egter 'n manipulering van die waarheid wat die geweldplegers in staat stelom aanspreeklikheid vir hulle aksies te ontduik. Ook slagoffers word hierdeur beïnvloed in hul pogings om hulle weergawes van die waarheid met alternatiewe weergawes te versoen. My gevolgtrekking is dat die konflik tussen die vertellings van die slagoffer en die geweldpleger dikwels 'n konfrontasie tussen kulture behels wat dan die mites blootlê onderliggend aan die pleger se manipulering van die waarheid

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