The main themes explored in the short story “The Chemist’s Assistant” by Moya Roddy are acceptance and lack of communication.


The theme of acceptance is illustrated by the character of Mussola and the reactions of the townspeople upon Mussola being hired as the chemist’s assistant. Mussola is black and the people of the town are reluctant to accept him. Colette’s neighbour calls Mussola “the new arrival at the chemist” (l. 21), an expression which shows her suspicion towards black people.

Mussola is not easily accepted by others and confesses to Colette that people are reluctant to converse with him: “I begin to drop down every Wednesday. Mussola likes me to. He tells me that not many people talk to him so his English isn’t improving” (ll. 70-71). However, Colette accepts Mussola and befriends him, suggesting that, because she is a child, she has not yet accepted the racist attitude of the adults around her.


Lack of communication

The theme of lack of communication is mostly illustrated by Colette and her relationship with her family. As the text shows, neither her mother nor her father and sister communicate with her properly. Instead of asking about the reasons why she stole money, Colette’s father decides to beat and punish her. As you have seen, her mother is not concerned with Colette’s motives and simply chooses to ignore her.


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