Introduction & Overview of Life

This Study Guide consists of approximately 28 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Life.
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Life Summary & Study Guide Description

Life Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading on Life by Bessie Head.

During her career, Bessie Head produced a body of work that focused on essential African concerns, such as village and tribal life, the effects of colonization, mythology and witchcraft, and the oral storytelling tradition. Her stories also delve into more universal issues, particularly the intermingling of traditional and contemporary culture and the roles of women. In "Life" (1977), Head examines the story of a young woman who has spent most of her life in Johannesburg, South Africa, but is forced to return to her native village in Botswana in the 1960s. Two very different worlds come in conflict when Life enters the village.

Life flouts convention when she becomes the village's first prostitute, but more than that she asserts a woman's right to be responsible for her own finances and own decisions. Despite her background, she marries the conservative, traditional Lesego. Both Life and Lesego believe that she can become a "woman," but when Life cannot give up her independence, Lesego kills her. The story explores how and why women seek to emancipate themselves, as well as the roles that both men and women play in keeping women at a subservient level. At its most fundamental level, perhaps, the story questions what it means to be a modern African.

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This section contains 209 words
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Short Stories for Students
Life from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.