Topic: Prison, Security, Literature, Family, Democracy, Freedom, Crime, Character
You are watching: The prisoner who wore glasses theme
Our nation takes great pride in maintaining freedom and disdain of persecution. However, oppression and freedom are not always clearly defined. Bessie Head investigates the involvedness of freedom in “The Prisoner Who Wore Glasses.” She shows that the clear causes of oppression are not always the most significant, or even as domineering as further, more indirect, devices in a community. In addition to the obvious symbols relating to the main theme of oppression, Brille’s sight, and resultant glasses, provide significant symbolism and meaning to the story. Although Brille is short-sighted, his adept perception of other people ensures that the prisoners of Span One achieve a better quality of life. The author uses the protagonist’s glasses as a symbol for his insight into the workings of the human mind.Hannetjie, is a hard prison guard who comes in to take control of Span One, a close unit of black political convicts in a work camp in South Africa. Brille, a prisoner who wears glasses, has gone to prison for his hostile political beliefs. He believes in equality and this is his only crime. When Hannejtie enters, Brille straight away realises that he is not the same as the other guards, who would overlook rule flouting and some issues in Span One. Brille says to the others, “We’re in for trouble this time, comrades.” This is the first clue that the reader has to Brille’s advanced insight into the characters of human beings. Furthermore, this is the moment of foresight for the protagonist; he predicts the nature of the new guard and begins to conceive possible ways of working the situation to the favour of himself and his fellow prisoners. From this point onwards, Brille starts to look out for an opportunity to manipulate the guard’s unusual character.Hannetjie disciplines Brille harshly for thieving and for insolence. However, later on, Brille witnesses Hannetjie illegally taking fertilizer and makes use of this information to make a deal with him. The agreement is that the inmates of Span One should receive privileges that allow them to bear their long, tough imprisonment and, in return, they come to be the most conscientious workforce in the work camp, assisting Hennetjie to thieve fertilizer and whatever else he wants for his farm at home.”The Prisoner Who Wore Glasses” does not have many symbols other than those for freedom and oppression, but the most noticeable is the paradoxically vague conversation of Brille”s sight. Brille, as the story’s protagonist, is the first character to speak. He observes the moving clouds in the sky and speculates whether if it is a signal for him to get a message to his children. However, he never sends such a message.Brille is factually short-sighted, but it is only as a result of his insight into Hannetjie”s mind and foresight used in the making of the deal that he and his comrades endure their imprisonment. Brille”s insight into Hannetjie”s mind turns out to be crucial. Brille understands that Hannetjie is like a child who can be managed in a similar way.
Brille can actually discipline Hannetjie as is proven when Brille makes Hannetjie admit what has happened. Hannetjie”s admission exposes his guilt about the fertiliser stealing, though he thieved it in order to support his family. This guilt instils in Hannetjie a weakness, and Brille skilfully uses this to control him. Brille”s foresight aids the operation. Though irritating the guards with psychological assaults was good in coercion, it is a short-sighted method, as a guard who is prepared to assist them in survival is greatly more cherished to Brille and the other inmates. It is important to remember that Span One repays Hannetjie; Hannetjie gives Span One bonuses for example tobacco from his farm, and the inmates start to be known as the prison’s most efficient work camp, and also assist Hannetjie in his theft of farming supplies. Originally and literally short-sighted, Brille adds valuable insight into the guard. Consequently, as a result of foresight of knowledge, he controls the guard in a manner which ensures that all parties gain.As he is in prison, Brille has no direct responsibility to his family; rather, he considers his fellow inmates to be his family. This provides the irony that, in many ways, Brille has less responsibilities oppressing his life than the guard. In this way, Brille discovered freedom from accountability in politics, and though the domineering governmental rule put him in prison for his political activities, his manipulation of Hannetjie provides him with more freedom and less restraints in the work camp than would be allowed outside of prison. Brille is aware of this fact and uses it against the guard. Hannetjie is still responsible for his family in the outside world and he tries to support them via theft within the prison. His family responsibilities are a cause of oppression for Hannetjie, where as they aren’t for Brille. However, Brille shows that he has power inside the, seemingly oppressive, prison.While the overarching themes of this story explore racial inequality, and the complex topic of the nature of freedom and repression, Brille’s sight provides crucial symbolism into his character. Although literally short sighted, and wearing glasses as a result, Brille is a deeply insightful person. He uses these advanced skills of perception to analysis Hannetjie’s character and find his weakness. Consequently, he is able to manipulate the guard to the benefit of himself, his comrads, and even Hannetjie as well. In this way, Brille’s glasses are deeply significant to the entire story. They provide the protagonist with sufficient literal sight when, without them, he would be inferior; furthermore, they symbolise his extra perception regarding people and how to control situations to his benefit. Fortunately, Brille is loyal to his fellow inmates and, therefore, the deal he strikes is with the intention of benefitting the whole community inside Span One.