Original Research

A network analysis of character relations in Etienne van Heerden’s Toorberg

Burgert A. Senekal
Literator | Vol 34, No 2 | a434 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v34i2.434 | © 2013 Burgert A. Senekal | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2013 | Published: 27 November 2013

About the author(s)

Burgert A. Senekal, Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French, University of the Free State, South Africa


Etienne van Heerden’s Toorberg can be approached as a modern, postcolonial farm novel, partly because it challenges the concept of lineage of inheritance, which is characteristic of the traditional farm novel. Lineage of inheritance implies a strong family bond, and it is therefore instructive to investigate how family ties function within this novel. The article views family ties within Toorberg using Social Network Analysis (SNA), a largely unknown theoretical framework that can also be applied within the study of literature. It is shown how characters’ positions in this network can be calculated in terms of degree centrality, closeness centrality, Eigenvector centrality and betweenness centrality, and how these measures expose the way in which this novel undermines the traditional concept of inheritance.


Network analysis; Farm novel; Etienne van Heerden; Toorberg


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