Sara Maarman

Outer characterisation

Alan Paton's story, “Life for a Life”, reveals little about Sara’s outer characterisation, except that she is the wife of Enoch, the head-shepherd of the Kroon, and that they have a son together who is studying in Cape Town at a white university. Sara and her husband are not rich, as they live in a “small stone house” (p. 11, l. 17), with a “small room” (p. 12, l. 13).  Sara also has a brother, named Solomon, whom she used to take care of: “…his sister who had brought up their family when their mother died…” (p. 20, ll. 16-17). Sara’s name has a Biblical symbolism, meaning ‘noble woman’.

Inner characterisation

Sara’s inner characterisation is constructed by conveying her behaviour, thoughts, and feelings in connection to other characters and the events she experiences.

Actions and motives

In the first part of the story, Sara is an active character only as part of the couple she forms with her husband. While she shares her husband’s feelings and despises the detective Robbertse, she does not intervene in the questioning. This suggests that she accepts her position in society.

However, Sara does refuse to sit when the detective asks her to, which indicates that she is a proud woman able to defy his authority: “When she made no attempt to sit the smile left his face…” (p. 13, ll. 5-6).

The fact that she does not eat or sleep when her husband is taken by Robbertse suggests Sara cares deeply about Enoch: “Twelve hours since they had taken her husband away. Twelve hours since the mad detective had come for him…” (p. 17, ll. 24-26).

When she finds out Enoch is dead, Sara goes to question the police because she does not believe his death was accidental. Her actions suggest bra...

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