Blood Knot

Comment here for Blood Knot.  Maybe a deceptively simple question for this class–which of the two main characters do you find most sympathetic?

Incidentally, Blood Knot is currently playing in Manhattan at the Signature Theater.  If there’s real interest I could look into getting the department to defray ticket cost–would anyone be interested in going?  Regardless, show me a stub from the performance and you can have extra credit on class participation.

Some other South African writers of note: Nadine Gordimer (fiction writer, major works July’s People and Burger’s Daughter)
J. M. Coetzee (novelist, major works Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace)
Zakes Mda (novelist, major work The Heart of Redness)
Alan Paton (novelist, major work Cry the Beloved Country)

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12 Responses to “Blood Knot”

  1. nmulet says:

    I feel most sympathetic for Zach because he has been given a rotten deal in life and is stuck where he is. I think he has aspirations of becoming a better person and doing more with his life, but his skin color and lack of education keep him from that. I think his brother should’ve done more to help Zach find his own form of happiness. And I found it interesting how Zach was the one who realized beauty is based on who you are and not what you look like.

  2. hamidah says:

    Zach is the most sympathetic out of the two because he has the biggest burden on his shoulders. He has to take care of himself and his brother. Even though his brother, Morris cooks and cleans, Zach is the one who brings the bacon home. Zach is the one who is standing for hours and feeling the pain in his feet. Not only does Zach feel pain physically but he feels it emotionally too because he is dark skinned and Morris is light skinned. Most of the damaged is done to Zach because he is dark skinned.

  3. hernandez says:

    I believe Zachariah would be the most sympathetic of the both. Not only because of his working conditions. Like a fellow classmate has mentioned, standing by a gate for hours, his feet in pain, etc but also the way he was spoken to by the white folks. Well, I don’t remember exactly if he specifically said they said something to him but when him and Morris were playing. He menioned how they barely give him a cent, thedont even acknowlegde that he is there, and he has to tell the negro kids to keep away. That must be hard to do to your own kind. I also felt bad when Morris taunted Zach about not knowing how to read his own name on a piece of paper.

  4. javeriasid says:

    I find Zach to be the more sympathetic character because he is doing all the labor to help his brother live his dreams. Even though Morris does in help him out around the house, he seems to be carrying the heavier load. And because he is darker and cannot pass for white like his brother he is limited to opportunities, and Morris makes this apparent when he makes Zach feel inferior.

  5. I don’t think I can say I sympathize with one character over the other. Both are suffering from the long term mental and emotional trauma that the apartheid has wrought them. Not only did South African society drive a wedge between the two of them, their own blood has brought them closer together, I think, by the end. I think on the surface you should feel a bit more sympathetic for Zach as opposed to Morris simply because he seems so mental and emotionally stunted and handicapped in comparison. Morris on the other you should feel pity for his own crippling sympathy for his brother. I don’t think this question has a very cut and dry answer because of the complex humanity that is involved in both the subject matter and the play itself.

  6. mhealy101 says:

    I genuinely sympathize for both characters, but in different ways. I am sympathetic for Morris because he takes on the burdens that his brother Zach cannot maintain. For example, Morris writes Zach’s letters to Ethel. Morris is even willing to meet with Ethel (obviously because it would be much more socially acceptable because Morris is light-skinned) The ways in which i am sympathetic for Zach is because he doesn’t have any dreams or aspirations like Morris has. I also feel sorry for Zach because , unlike Morris who is more light-skinned, Zach is black which means he is much more inferior by society because of the apartheid. Since Morris is lighter he has the ability to choose what kinda of lifestyle he wants to live, meaning white or black.

  7. Both characters are easy to sympathize with. Zachariah is a character that evokes living in the now. He is hard working and driven by simple urges and pleasures. Morris on the other hand is about building a future. He has a goal and is trying to achieve it with his brother. Morris is educated and tries to enlighten his brother in any way but unfortunately he uses his education against Zachariah (with the pen pal letters). Also, the way they imagine evokes a sense of youth and fun which allows the reader to look into this relationship on a different level. These characters are not in the best environment and still make the most of it. When you consider race I felt that Zachariah was satisfied with who he was while Morris tried to pass and felt that he was caught in between two worlds because he would be able to pass. I felt that Morris struggled more with identity than Zachariah.

  8. Zasha Lucas says:

    I believe of the two main characters I find to be more sympathetic for Zach. Zach and Morris both lived a life of suffering and struggle but Zach did not even believe in himself. He gave up his pen pal Ethel to his brother Morris because he was black and he felt that his brother would be better just because he was light skinned. He really wanted women in his life but it was something he was lacking. He also worked hard in his job and did not make much. He came home with his feet in pain and he did not know how to read or write. He was also living in a place where it smelled and they did not know what time it was. The only escape from reality for Zach were the games he played with his brother Morris.

  9. seanlevine says:

    I felt much more sympathy/empathy for Zach by the time I had finished the play for a few reasons. Foremost, the broader society he is unfortunately a part of denigrates him on the basis of his skin tone. At every turn he is denied and relegated to an inferior status as a result of apartheid (ex the overt racism, the fact that he’s illiterate, or that he can never realize a relationship with Ethel as a result of being black, even though she never shows etc etc etc). The realities of the world Zach and Morrie inhabit will never allow Zach to transcend the limitations in the same fashion Morrie could, if he weren’t so deeply entwined in his brothers life, and chose to go out on his own. This in and of itself makes Zach an almost tragic figure, whereas Morrie seems to making a conscious choice; which is valiant and respectable in and of itself, but it’s hard to feel as sympathetic knowing he’s making a rational decision and is in control of his destiny on some level.

  10. GordonWTam says:

    It’s hard not to sympathize more with Zachariah. Both the brothers are black, but Morris seems to have it very slightly better off. He is lighter skinned and can be disguised as white, and doesn’t do as much work as Zachariah. We can really only see their true selves when they play their games of pretend, their resentment and love toward each other and their mutual hatred of the segregated system they live in.

  11. I belive that Zachariah was the more sympathetic one. His character left a sense of what it was to be black , Standing all day, the hard work, the hard life. The pain in his feet, his longing dreams, the enjoyment of the small moments( when he spoke about Minnie). It was a sad story about two individuals trying to make it, not only struggling to make a living but also about facing the pain,truth about where they stand in society. With no way out!

  12. cbergmann says:

    In my opinion I think Zachariah is the more sympathetic character. Although Morris seemed to be the one sacrificing himself for Zachariah the entire play, that sacrifice seemed to turn into more of a guilty conscious as the play went on. Morris admits to Zachariah that he had a chance for a “better life” because of his light complexion but wont leave because of Zachariah. After this Zachariah seemed to begin doing things for Morris that will help him feel more like apart of white society. At first he encourages Morris to try on the suite, even after Zachariah is upset by the fact that Ms. Ethel is getting married. At the end Zachariah and Morris play a “game” where Morris plays a white man and Zachariah plays himself guarding the gate. This game was wholly Zachariah’s suggestion. Morris steps over the line by calling Zachariah a bad name, although it shocks Zachariah for a moment, he allows the game to progress. At the end of the scene what the reader has is a clear depiction of how the apartheid creates racial divide, but we also have a sense that Zachariah was playing this game to give Morris what he really yearned for. I think this is kind of a twist considering the play went from Morris trying to give Zachariah what he wanted (a woman) to Zachariah ultimately sacrificing his dignity to give Morris what he really wanted (a chance at passing off as white).