Academic journal article Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

The Enigmatic Nature of the Trickster Figure in Ingrid Winterbach's Niggie/Die Enigmatiese Aard Van Die Trieksterfiguur in Ingrid Winterbach Se Niggie

Academic journal article Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

The Enigmatic Nature of the Trickster Figure in Ingrid Winterbach's Niggie/Die Enigmatiese Aard Van Die Trieksterfiguur in Ingrid Winterbach Se Niggie

Article excerpt

This article explores the enigmatic nature of tricksters in Ingrid Winterbach's Niggie (Cousin, 2002), as manifested in everyday life through the supernatural and the unconscious (for instance in dreams). In this way some of the puzzling aspects of this magisterial novel are clarified. Early in Niggie the reader is confronted with a trickster figure in the form of a dream figure, the red haired woman with the little feather hat, who appears in the farmer's epiphanic dream. After tricking him, she leaves him with an intense sense of loss. This type of trickster figure is variously embodied and manifested throughout the novel in several other mysterious characters, adding to the jouissance or playfulness and ambiguity in the novel. It would appear that Winterbach as a South African author was inspired not only by tricksters from European mythology, but also by indigenous African, Khoi and San mythology. In this regard trickster figures from the Khoi and San as well as Nguni cultures are also discussed. These figures are, amongst others, the Mantis (/Kaggen), Heitsi-Eibeb, Uthlakanyana and Tokoloshe.

Key words: Afrikaans Literature, Ingrid Winterbach, tricksters, South African mythology.

Inleidend: trieksterfigure

In Niggie (2002) word fasette van goed en kwaad, lig en donker, in verskillende karakters weerspieel. Die spel met lig en donker word ook in die beskrywings van die landskap gereflekteer. Verskeie enigmatiese elemente dra by tot die meerduidige en meervlakkige aard van die roman. Die belangrikste hiervan is gesetel in die verskillende trieksterfigure.

Die triekster is 'n mitologiese figuur. Noemio Canonici (1995: 7) verduidelik die herkoms van die term "triekster": "Having been originally entrusted with the creation or the organization of the world, his energies were later poured into sowing chaos in the very universe he had helped to order". Die trieksterfiguur kan dus gesien word as die "externalization of the perceived conflicts". Hy of sy is enigmaties want hul "actions reveal positive aspects, while also outrageously running counter to religious, social and ethical codes". Daar is verskeie trieksters in die Suid-Afrikaanse orale tradisie. Daar is die Venda of Noord-Sotho figuur van Huveane, 'n menslike triekster, die Zoeloe-triekster Uthlakanyana, en Zim, die wreedaard en kannibaal in die Xhosakultuur, om maar 'n paar te noem. Canonici (1995: 12) wys daarop dat die funksie van die triekster in verhale is om die luisteraar te vermaak: "The manifest function of trickster tales seems to be to entertain, while at the same time the characters' antics convey important points in social education and help in sharpening the children's minds to the dangers surrounding them in society".

Canonici (1995: 17) pas Vladimir Propp se terme oor intrige in volksverhale aan en pas dit toe op trieksterverhale: "False Contract a Fraud: Illusion, Deception and Substitution a Discovery a Flight and Pursuit a Escape a Gloat and Boast". Hierdie intrige gegewens kan ook op Niggie toegepas word. Die false contract kan verwys na kommandant Senekal wat vir Ben, Reitz, Willem en Abraham skynbaar help deur vir hul 'n kaart te gee na generaal Bergh sodat hulle aan hom 'n brief van Senekal kan oorhandig. Dit kan ook verwys na generaal Bergh wat hierdie verraderlike brief opskeur en voorgee asof hy vir hulle nog 'n kans gee. Die fraud (bedrog) deur illusie, misleiding en plaasvervanging dui op die opdrag wat hy aan Ben en Reitz gee om onder leiding van Gert Smal uit te voer, in plaas daarvan om hulle toe te laat om Abraham aan sy moeder in Ladybrand terug te besorg. Hulle ontdekking (discovery) kom te laat nadat hulle in 'n hinderlaag gelei word. Hierna vlug en ontsnap die triekster (in sy of haar vele gedaantes in Niggie) en spog oor sy of haar slimmigheid om hierdie mense uit te oorle. Die slot van 'n trieksterverhaal kan opgesom word as: "Trickery comes to symbolize the success of brain over brawn, of small over big and powerful" (Canonici 1995: 1). …

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