Original Research

“Hell’s view”: Van de Ruit’s Spud – changing the boys’ school story tradition?

J. Robertson
Literator | Vol 32, No 2 | a11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v32i2.11 | © 2011 J. Robertson | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 June 2011 | Published: 22 June 2011

About the author(s)

J. Robertson, Departement Afrikaans & Nederlands, Universiteit van, Stellenbosch, South Africa

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Abstract

The article identifies salient features of Van de Ruit’s novels “Spud: a wickedly funny novel” (2005) and “Spud – the madness continues” (2007) and compares them with the corresponding motifs commonly found in historical British boys’ school stories, tracing shifts in discourse to establish the novels’ construction of a South African boyhood. The article argues that through his conscious subversion of the imperial model’s defining discourses, Van de Ruit’s fictional representation of Spud’s school experience portrays the previously accepted “ideal” construction of boyhood, with its unmistakably defined principles and uncontested ethical code, as fundamentally challenged by the variety of alternative discourses to which the modern protagonist is exposed. The resultant construction of Spud’s South African boyhood is, therefore, characterised by the protagonist’s constant struggle to assimilate the frequently incongruous and bewildering discourses (about moral courage and personal integrity, in particular) that compete for his attention. The pivotal component of this particular construction of boyhood may be argued not to be a strict adherence to a clearly defined schoolboy ethic, but as a variable that is ultimately dependent on the boy’s choices.

Keywords

Imperial Construction Of Boyhood; South African; Spud

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