Relatives By Chris Van Wyk Essays

StudyM8 Grade 12

Approximately 4 hours of DVD content

The following stories are included:

  • Introduction
  • How to approach a short story (What happens? Who? Where and when? How? Why?)
  • Key elements of a short story (The importance of title; Author’s intentions; Economy or brevity)
  • Assessment (Contextual questions; Essay questions; Study format for learners)
  • Glossary

Discussion of the short stories:

  1. Manhood – John Wain
  2. The Luncheon – W. Somerset Maugham
  3. The Soft Voice of the Serpent – Nadine Gordimer
  4. Relatives – Chris van Wyk
  5. The Coffee-cart Girl – Es’kia Mphahlele
  6. The Dube Train – Can Themba
  7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – James Thurber
  8. The Sisters – Pauline Smith

Each of the 8 stories is approached in the following way:

  • Outline: A brief outline of the short story
  • Vocabulary: Important vocabulary – words or phrases you may not understand
  • Discussion: A comprehensive discussion of the story
  • Themes: A breakdown of themes the story covers
  • Questions and suggested answer: A practice question and suggested answer

Poet and author Chris van Wyk died yesterday. As our Sunday read, we bring you one of his stories and two of his poems. Read, watch and remember.


Van Wyk’s 1995 story, “Relatives”, was earlier this year selected as one of the best twenty stories of South Africa’s twenty years of democracy. Here is “The girl who found Europe”, written specially for the Sunday Times in 2010.

“The girl who found Europe”

by Chris van Wyk

Ronel Jacobs – long legs, sleek hair, huge brown eyes – dropped out of school in 1973 after failing grade nine three times. “Don’t worry, Ronnie girl,” her dad said, “I left school before I was 13, but look at me now!” Mr Jacobs worked at Grid Engineering in Industria. He earned R60 a week. He drove an old Ford Fairlane he had bought from his white boss’s son. He lived in a two-bedroom house with his wife and five children. He had frizzy hair, but his wife had long hair. And Ronel had the good fortune to inherit his wife’s tresses.

These were all the blessings Mr Jacobs thought about when he said: “Look at me now.”


“My Mother’s Laughter”

Here is a video of Chris van Wyk reading his poem, “My Mother’s Laughter” at the Spier Poetry Festival in 2007. We also posted it yesterday, but it’s worth another watch:

~ ~ ~

“In Detention”

Here – also posted for the second time, but now with a twist – is an annotated version of van Wyk’s “In Detention”. Nicole Duncan details the killings that happened at John Vorster Square, and what it was like to be a political detainee inside police cells during apartheid. The “prezi” features video clips of Barbara Hogan and others. “In Detention” appeared in the collection It is Time to Go Home under the Ad Donker imprint, for which van Wyk received the Olive Schreiner Prize.


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