A true hero isnt measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart Hercules (Pinterest quotes:2017) In the novel, Tsotsi, we are introduced to the main character, Tsotsi who is portrayed as a heartless thug who lives his life according to a code of violence and has no sense of remorse for his wrong doings.
In the first chapter, Tsotsi and his gang brutally murders, Gumboot a mine worker who has returned home with his salary.
This clearly illustrates the extend Tsotsi and his gang members is willing to resort to in order to survive. It also allows one to imagine his horrible circumstances and his mind set or world view. In my opinion the Tsotsi is anti-hero in the beginning of the novel and slowly transforms into and hero near to the end of the novel. In the beginning of the novel, especially the first chapter, we the readers see Tsotsi as a tough guy who has no sense of remorse whatsoever.
This was before we had any idea of the type of upbringing he had. His aggression resorts to violence, symbolically he kills in hopes of killing his memories of his upbringing. The theme of pain comes to light in the sense that he had to endure pain throughout his life, therefore he hurt others to get rid of his pain.
The theme of pain also illustrates the fact that he wants to block all his memories from his childhood because it is too painful to relive or remember therefore he chooses to forget his life before he became Tsotsi. In Chapter 2, Boston, one of Tsotsis gang members decides to question Tsotsi about his personal life knowing that one of Tsotsis rules is never ask questions this irritates Tsotsi and result in Tsotsi brutally beating Boston leaving him in Soekies place beaten half to death. This event is provides evidence to the fact that Tsotsi chooses not to remember and expresses his anger and aggression through violence by releasing his pain onto others and hurting them physically in hopes to release some of his pain on to them.
In chapter 3, Tsotsi is walking down the street from the shebeen in which he had just beaten up Boston and he starts to remember parts of his childhood, like the fact his real name is David and not Tsotsi. In this stage of the novel Tsotsi seems to move from aggression to confusion. Old memories of his past starts to appear which leaves Tsotsi confused, and once again he attempts to physically express his confusion by attempting to rape a women who is walking down the street he recognized the symptoms of fear in the woman and when he attempts to rape her she shoves a small parcel in his hands and runs off, to Tsotsis surprise there was a baby inside the parcel. The theme of fear comes to light as Tsotsi was able to recognize the symptoms of fear in the woman. He is taken back to a memory of his father kicking his dog to the point where his dog was no longer able to walk, he recognizes the womans fear in comparison to the fear he felt when his father kicked his dog.
After Tsotsi received the baby, he is still in a state of confusion. He contemplates whether to leave the baby or to take the baby with him(Tsotsi:1980). After much thought he decides to take the baby home with him and this is where one can see that Tsotsi has a heart. He symbolically is able to see himself in the baby. Symbolically he saves the baby in attempt to save himself. This is where Tsotsi starts transgressing from a anti-hero to a hero. This allows us to see that he is willing to care for the baby, and that he has a sense of remorse for someone other than himself.
After many failed attempts to feed the baby and care for the baby Tsotsi becomes frustrated (Tsotsi:1980). This is where we the readers are introduced to Miriam, a young mother who is also from the township. Her character comes into comes to light because she is needed to feed the baby. Although Tsotsi physically threatened her to feed the baby his intentions are pure as he is only trying to save the baby. There is a clear comparison between, Tsotsi and Miriam. Both characters in the novel has experienced and endured a magnitude of pain. However one can clearly see that the manner in which these characters deal with their pain is different. For example, Tsotsi kills or murders people in hopes to kill his bad memories, whereas Miriam is in a deep depression and does not vent nor express her anger to the world.
The baby and Miriam helped Tsotsi regain his humanity. The baby acts as a catalyst for Tsotsis self-discovery. The baby represents innocence, kindness and positivity amongst human nature just like David did. The baby helps Tsotsi become David again through teaching him life lessons like nurturing, caring and taking responsibility. Miriam however represents what Tsotsi wished his mother couldve been like. She also teaches Tsotsi that one must never live in the past, in order to move forward one must let go of the past and never give up. In my personal opinion Tsotsi slowly starts to transgress from aggression to confusion and finally at the end he becomes enlightened. Tsotsi becomes a true hero because he risks his own life in order to save the life of the baby. This allows one to see that by his efforts to save the baby his instincts change from violence to compassion. Symbolically he saves the baby in attempt to save himself which is the ultimate redemption of becoming David again.
In conclusion, Tsotsis transition from aggression to confusion and enlightened helps one to realise that Tsotsi is a hero in his own right, as he was able to change his way of thinking. Although he is not a conventional hero whom helped save society or has done something for the greater good of others, He was able to save himself by slowly allowing his heart to heal. He was able to save what was left of his humanity and made the biggest sacrifice one could ever make and that is, he risked his own safety for the safety of the baby. An hero is someone who can conquer his/her own demons and hatred- James Richard (Google:2017). (1098 words)