Living in South Africa, the setting of the story that defines the entire context and message of the book “Boyhood” specifically intends to identify how social alienation and differentiation specifically identifies the life of a young boy. Taking the character of John at the central function of the story, this narrative provides a great indication on how the life in South Africa has made young ones uncertain of who they are especially if they have not yet been defined by the current social structures of their nation. In the story, John is described as a unique individual who knows about his personal being, however, living through such uniqueness was not that easy for the young boy. He needs to compromise and make sure that he is accepted by those surrounding him, especially his family. He knows that only through this aspect of development would he be able to determine the condition of acceptance that he needs to be able to survive as a legitimate part of a group.
Through utilizing a combination of adjective-adverb description of how John feels, Coetzee tries to enable his readers to become a part of the narrative and to realize what is being presented in the story as an important aspect of the relation it has to the current society. The issues discussed in the narrative create a perfect picture on how social discrimination draws the line that separates [even young people] away from each other. One of the most compelling quotes from the book that identifies well with this theme is that of the one from John’s mother when she talks about the black people to work on some of the tasks to be completed in their homes. To this she mentions:”Because they have not gone to school, because they have no book-learning” (61). Apparently, John’s mother, no matter how smart she was as described in the book, took part on the determination of the sickly culture of discrimination. This quote is considerably interesting as it identifies the common source of social illness that still permeates today among people around the globe especially when they deal with individuals or group of people that are socially perceived as inferior from them.
Coetzee, JM. (1998). Boyhood: Scenes From Provincial Life. Penguin Books.