Butterfly Burning Themes & Motifs

This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Butterfly Burning.
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Self-love

The novel uses the figure of Phephelaphi, a woman struggling to be ambitious with her future, to dramatize women’s battle not for love and affection but for self-love and self-care in a society that otherwise exploits and drains Phephelaphi. The novel as a whole can be understood as a narrative arc tracing Phephelaphi’s initial romance with Fumbatha and her dawning understanding that she wants more than a romantic relationship for her life.

The novel’s structure supports this reading of Phephelaphi as a woman on a journey from love to self-love. The initial scenes show Phephelaphi from Fumbatha’s perspective. When readers first encounter Phephelaphi it is through Fumbatha’s point-of-view, one that romanticizes Phephelaphi and that suggests she is only an object of wondrous desire. In this first scene, watching Phephelaphi, Fumbatha thinks, “Here was life and water and shelter of a kind...

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This section contains 2,473 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Butterfly Burning Study Guide
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