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Marguerite Poland


Chapter 14 & 15:
Questions to challenge you!

Keith Tankard
Updated: 4 March 2014
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Frances receives a letter from Victor who is clearly seeking to know whether or not she is pregnant.

Her reply is deliberately ambiguous but it drives Victor into a decision to use his influence to recruit people from St Matthias for the mines as a quick way to earn money.

In the meantime, while Frances is ill, Helmina takes her place at Nolovini, hoping that her isolation with Walter would cement their friendship.


Kobus Pumani returns from the initiation rites to find that his cattle are all dead. He is angry at his second wife and decides to punish her by becoming a Christian.

In the meantime, the Farboroughs decide to go to the coast for Christmas, leaving Walter to look after the mission.


Unlike the Catholic missionaries who took a vow of chastity, the Anglicans were able to marry and have children. Their wives therefore tended to play an active role in mission activity.

Although the children grew up in a religious atmosphere, there was not necessarily pressure on them to follow in their parents' footsteps by themselves taking the cloth.

The missionaries on the whole were not racists but they were certainly people of their time, and were therefore usually colonialist by nature.

As such, they believed in the superiority not only of their religion and their church, but also of the whole British culture.

As a result, English was the language which their children and acolytes were expected to use. Their schools taught English, together with the classical subjects like Latin and Greek.

Xhosa was usually forbidden as a language of instruction.

To become a convert into the Anglican Church therefore meant that the Xhosa were forced to forgo their own traditions.

A convert who had more than one wife was expected to keep only the first one while the others were repudiated, often with shameful consequences.

Consider, for example, how Kobus Pumani was allowed to put aside his second wife by becoming a Christian convert.

Traditional Xhosa initiation rituals were taboo, and circumcision initiates were not allowed to be seen in public.

The missionaries glorified hard work and despised laziness. Because of this, many of the mission stations established printing presses, as well as carpentry and metal industries.

Traditional subsistence farming, on the other hand, was frowned upon because the work tended to devolve upon the females while the males were seen as loafing.

Have you looked at the questions
in the right column?
Read the left column and then answer
the following questions:

Why does Frances deliberately not tell Victor whether or not she is pregnant? (4)

[Need help?]

What words tell us that Frances is NOT pregnant. (4)

[Need help?]

Why does Frances appear to regret not being pregnant? (The answer is complicated, so don't go for the simple reply.) (10)

[Need help?]

Why is Walter tempted to open her letter to Victor? (4)

[Need help?]

After receiving the letter, why does Victor decide to use his influence to recruit people for the mines? (6)

[Need help?]

Kobus Pumani converts to Christianity to punish his second wife.
  • What had she done to deserve to be punished by him? (2)

[Need help?]

  • In what way would his conversion to Christianity punish her? (4)

[Need help?]

Why does Helmina wish to stay at the mission instead of going to the coast for Christmas? (2)

[Need help?]

Try another worksheet?

See also:
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