Lilian Thurgood

Lilian Thurgood is the main character of the short story “The Guilt” by Rayda Jacobs. She is a white pensioner (p. 126, l. 41) living alone in South Africa, with her two dogs, after the death of her husband (p. 127, ll. 3-5). 

The feeling that characterizes Lilian throughout the story is guilt. As a white woman, she was privileged by the old apartheid regime: “As benefactors of the old regime, whites were shot through with guilt” (p. 126, ll. 15-16). Consequently, Lilian feels guilty every time she interacts with a black South African who asks for “food, old clothes, money, and work” (p. 125, l. 40). Lilian feels guilty for the injustices suffered by black South Africans also because, as a white person, she was part of the system that upheld injustice. During her encounter with William, she feels “guilt for his circumstances” (p. 127, ll. 1-2). This feeli...

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