Applets a resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples Birgit Brüggehofe, Jörg Droste, Bianka Gehler, Almut Güllenstern, Gabriele Hainke, Ulrike Hüwe, Angela Koch, Anne Kuschnik, Angelika Meyer, Brigitte Müller, Nicole Mutlow, Isabelle Niski, Regina

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Applets

A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples


Birgit Brüggehofe, Jörg Droste,

Bianka Gehler, Almut Güllenstern,

Gabriele Hainke, Ulrike Hüwe,

Angela Koch, Anne Kuschnik, Angelika

Meyer, Brigitte Müller,

Nicole Mutlow, Isabelle Niski,

Regina Schwengelbeck, Bernd

Thumann, Svenja Uhde, Max

Bracht

Fachseminar Englisch 03,

Studienseminar S II Paderborn -

February, 1999

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 2

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

Applets

A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples



Time Structure: A Chronology of the Events in 1973 4

Textverständnisfragen zu Mark Behrs The Smell of Apples 8

The Characters 13

Marnus Erasmus (1973) 13



Initiations: Motifs and Crucial Passages 26

1) Crucial passages 27

2) Motifs 32

Background Information on the History of South Africa and Angola 35

I. A BRIEF REPORT ON SOUTH-AFRICAN HISTORY 35

II. A BRIEF REPORT ON THE HISTORY OF THE ANGOLAN CIVIL WAR 39

African National Congress press statement, 2 February, 1996 42

III. Facets of the Angolan Civil War 43


Afrikaans 46

Milestones in the Development of Afrikaans 46

Historical background 48

The Use of Afrikaans Today 51

Linguistic outline of Afrikaans 52

Annotationen Afrikaans - Deutsch 54

The use of Afrikaans in M. Behr's The Smell of Apples 56

Passages to discuss in class that reflect general aspects of the language 58

Mark Behr – Some Biographical Notes 59

Appendix: Having Been an Informer for the Apartheid System 62

Internet Page on Mark Behr 64



Suggestions for extended reading 65

South Africa: Additional Texts, Teaching and Viewing Materials 67

Feature Films on Apartheid in South Africa 72

Contributors 74

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 3

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

Appendix:Mark Behr, "Transforming South Africa: The Power of Imaginative

Writing", The Richmond Review, 1995,

http://www.demon.co.uk/review/features/behr.html

Mark Behr, "South Africa: Living in the Fault Lines. Cape Town, 4th July 1996",

Common Sense, October, 1996,

http://www.nd.edu/~com_sens/october/behr.html

Donna Bryson, "Truth Hurts: Apartheid Participants Tell All - and Get

Rebuffed", SOURCE News & Reports, July 30, 1996,

http://www.sddt.com/files/librarywire/96wireheadlines/07_96/DN96_07_30/

DN96_07_30_laac.html

Matthew Howard, "Apartheid's Legacy" (Review of The Smell of Apples), The

Boston Book Review, http://bookwire.com/BBR/Fiction-&-

Criticism/read.Review$923

Johannes Morken, "Studentspion for apartheid", Vårt Land, 16.7.96,

http://nettvik.no/kirkebakken/vaartland/nyheter/art197.11.54.24.html

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 4

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999


Time Structure: A Chronology of the Events in 1973

Behr's The Smell of Apples is a first-person narrative interweaving two

different time-levels

11-year old Marnus reporting the crucial childhood events of the first

December week 1973

26-year old Marnus as a lieutenant with the SA Defence Force fighting in

Angola in 1988

The main plot line is that of the events in 1973 which provides the narrative

backbone of Behr's novel. Into this main plot line the second plot line, which

is graphically set off by the use of italics, is inserted in irregular intervals

and deals with the events leading up to Marnus' death in 1988

In the following, a chronology of the events in 1973 is given:

Introducti

on (p. 1-

30)

The narrative starts at an unidentified time between Marnus'



birthday in November (cf. p.1) and the first December week (cf.

p.19)


Introduction to setting, main characters, central topics and

Marnus' family background

Thursday

1st

December

week 1973

(p. 30-42)

In the afternoon, "John Smith" arrives at the Erasmus house in

Simonstown

During supper, the conversation centres on the Erasmus family's

move to SA and the Afrikaners' "noble struggle" for selfgovernment

and freedom from the British Empire

Friday(p.

43-82)


In the afternoon, Marnus invites his friend Frikkie over for the

weekend, as his dad has gone away with the general and does not

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 5

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

keep up their Friday afternoon routine

Marnus and Frikkie tease and humiliate Zelda Kemp at Kalk Bay

Before supper, Marnus takes a shower with his dad

During supper, the conversation is about the "trouble" in the

Portuguese colonies of Mozambique and Angola

After Marnus and Frikkie going through a ceremony of becoming

blood brothers, Marnus reveals Mr. Smith's identity to Frikkie

At night, Marnus runs into Mr. Smith in the bathroom who seems

strangely attracted to him

Saturday(

p.83-100)

Early in the morning, Marnus and Frikkie go fishing at the beach

at Muizenberg

Marnus (with some help from Frikkie) desperately struggles with

a sand-shark, but fails to bring the fish in; his dad punishes the

"loser" with criticism and contempt

In the night, Marnus and Frikkie peep into the general's room

through the floorboards in Marnus' room

Sunday(p.1

01-17)


When Marnus' mother takes Frikkie home, Doreen catches a ride

to town with them; Doreen's son Little-Neville still hasn't arrived

for the weekend

Monday(p.

124-57)

After school, Marnus steals hibiscuses for Ilse at Mrs.



Streicher's house and is almost caught; when falling, he bruises

his knee

The Erasmus family receive news that Little-Neville has been

seriously burned in a racist act of revenge for stealing charcoal

At the annual prize-giving in the evening, Ilse becomes Jan Van

Riebeeck's head girl for 1974; Ilse voices her increasing criticism

of SA ideology by expanding on her piano performance of the

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 6

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

national anthem "The Stem"

After the prize-giving, Ilse keeps on criticizing SA ideology and

quarrels with both her mother and the general

At night, Marnus again peeps into the general's room and sees a

mysterious reflection from the door of the room (the identity of

the general's visitor is only hinted at and might be traced back to

either Marnus' father or, less likely, Ilse)

Tuesday(p.

157-77)


Marnus' museum essay, in which he blindly parrots a whitewashed

version of SA history, has been chosen for the annual at Jan Van

Riebeeck

After school, Marnus meets the coloured former family gardener

Chrisjian, who has become a half-demented bum begging on the

streets


After supper, Marnus' dad shows slides on former SA colonies

and on executions performed in Rhodesia; the general accidentally

reveals his identity to Frikkie

In the night, Marnus again peeps through the floorboards and

sees his dad sexually abusing Frikkie

Wednesda


y(p. 178-

99)


Marnus and Frikkie perceive a rotten smell on the apples they eat

now, the smell originating from the semen on Frikkie's hand

Frikkie refuses to tell his blood brother Marnus about the rape

and goes home

Together with his mother and Ilse, Marnus visits the terribly

mutilated Little-Neville in hospital

After the visit, Ilse heavily criticizes white supremacists'

hypocritical and bigoted use of Christianity

Marnus refuses to take another shower with his dad and almost

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 7

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

forces his father to drop his mask of integrity and faith to

Christian ideals

In the night, Marnus has his first erection and dreams of himself

and Little-Neville galloping after Zelda on horseback

Thursday(

p. 200)

Marnus admits to having had first overnight ejaculations and is


now allowed to go tiger-fishing with his father

The family leave Simonstown for their annual holiday in

Sedgefield

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 8

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999


Textverständnisfragen zu Mark Behrs The Smell of Apples

P. 1-301

What is the function of this first part of the novel? What information is

given to us?

How would you describe the relationship between Marnus and Frikkie? (Think

of its origin, of the anecdotes...)

You have seen that there are two types of printing in this book. What is

distinguished with these different types? Who is the narrator in each

passage? What do we learn about the narrator in the text in italics?2

What is Marnus' relationship to his sister Ilse?

How do we know that the story is taking place in South Africa?

Find out some details which show that the Erasmuses are well-off.

What image of South Africa is depicted here?



P. 30-42

Show how the reader realises very soon that the visit of "Mr Smith" is going

to be important. (P.31)

Describe Mr Erasmus' opinions on politics and coloured people.

What do you learn about Mr Smith?

How could you qualify the kind of atmosphere which reigns this evening at the

Erasmus' house? (Think of the various characters.)

What do you think about Mr Smith? Is he proud, sympathetic...? Give reasons

for your judgement.

Find out some information on - Golda Meir (mentioned at page 35)

- Pablo Neruda (mentioned at page

41)

and try to explain why the author mentions them in the text.

P.42: "He is one of two Xhosas ... discrimination." Explain these three

sentences.

1 Ich habe die Fragen in Anlehnung an "A Chronology of the Events in 1973" angeordnet.

2 Die kursiv gedruckten Fragen beziehen sich auf die im Roman kursiv gedruckten Passagen.

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 9

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999


P. 43-82

P. 44: Comment on the paragraph starting with "Just before the General

came".

Why are Friday afternoons so important to Marnus?



P. 53-54: Episode with the Bantu. What seems to be Mr Erasmus' attitude to

non-white people?

Describe Mr Erasmus' attitude to his children.

Compare Frikkie's and Marnus' behaviour towards Zelda in the harbour

episode (p.56-61).

Why do you think does the author insert some flashbacks (e.g. p.67-69) in his

novel? What do these episodes represent for Marnus?

What are Mr Erasmus' opinions on politics in general and on foreign politics in

particular? (Don't forget Mr Erasmus' nationality.)

What does the allusion to the F-1 (p.71) suggest? Compare this to the

conversation between Marnus and Frikkie about the real identities of the

visitors (p.80).

What is the impact of Mr Erasmus' speech on New Year '84?

P. 83-101

P. 85: How does the family get news? Explain their choice.

"It must be the most terrible of terrible things if your father and mother

die." (p.87): What does this sentence say about Marnus' feelings for his

parents? Give some examples of situations which show Marnus' feelings.

P.93: Struggling with the fish Marnus would like his father to be there. What

does he expect his father to do?

What are the reactions of Marnus' father? Would you have expected such a

behaviour? Why?

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 10

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

What are Marnus' feelings after the shark has disappeared beneath the

waves?


P. 101-124

Explain Mrs Erasmus' attitude to singing.

Explain Tannie Karla's relation to the Erasmus and the ending of this

relationship.

Search for information on Salvador Allende and on the history of Chile.

What kind of relationship may exist between Mr Erasmus and the General?

Look for information on Rhodesia's history.

What do the apples (and their smell) seem to symbolise here?



P. 124-157

What is the importance of the episode with Little-Neville?

The main plot takes place in 1973, what about the sub-plot? How old is Marnus

then?


Which important facts about South Africa are related in Mrs Erasmus' letter

to her son?

What is the relation of Mrs Erasmus to Marnus in 1988?

p.138-139: Work out the different reactions of the characters to what

happened to Little-Neville.

Explain Ilse's performance at the annual prize-giving.

Why does Ilse quarrel with her mother and the General?

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 11

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

Why does Marnus think that the reflection in Mr Smith's room is Ilse? How

does he feel about it?

P. 157-178

Explain the different reactions of Ilse to Marnus' essay.

Why does Ilse leave the room when her father shows slides of Rhodesia?

What does Marnus witness early in the morning? What is his reaction?


P. 178-200

Explain the title of the novel.

"Dad always says the things you remember from childhood are your most

precious memories. You never forget the things you were taught or the things

that happened to you as a child. Those things make up your foundation for the

future" (p.184-185). To what extent can we relate this statement to Marnus'

life as a young man?

Mrs Erasmus does not know the name of her servant who has been working

for years for the family. What does this show? What about Ilse?

Comment on Ilse's and her mother's reaction after having visited Little-

Neville at the hospital.

Comment on the meeting between Marnus and his father (return of the

father, shower).

"I know now that it wasn't Ilse's reflection in the mirror last night, and I

knew all along that it wasn't a dream." (P.194) Whose reflection was it? How

did Marnus understand this?

Explain the various reactions of the family members after Marnus has

unwrapped his present from the General.

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 12

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

"Death brings its own freedom, and it is for the living that the dead should

mourn, for in life there is no escape from history." (p.198): Why does Marnus

think so?

Why does Ilse come to speak to Marnus as he is lying in bed? How does he

react? Why?

"It's a perfect day" (p.200): Is everything still perfect for Marnus as he

seems to tell us?

What might also be implied in the geographical name "False Bay"?

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 13

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999



The Characters

Marnus Erasmus (1973)

The things you remember from childhood are your most precious memories. You

never forget the things you were taught or the things that happened to you as a

child. Those things make up your foundation for the future (p. 184 f).

The main plot of the novel is told from the point of view of Marnus Erasmus at

the age of eleven. As typical of a child's perspective, Marnus often relates what

is happening in quite a simple and naive way, without interpreting it. Thus, the

reader is left with the task to find his own explanations and give meaning to the

experiences the boy makes.

Marnus is strongly influenced by his parents, who want him to do what society

expects from him. Unlike his sister Ilse, he does not question authorities, but

he adopts his parents' attitudes towards social and political items and usually

tries to be "quiet, polite and in the background" (p. 49).

The parents exert quite a different influence on their son. Marnus and his

father seem to have a typical father-son relationship: they share activities such

as fishing, swimming and playing chess. His father calls Marnus "my little bull" (p.

1); he teaches him that "bulls don't cry" (p. 197) and that 'bulls are not scared

of cold water'. Marnus admires his father's masculinity, which is expressed on

the one hand by his responsible position in the army and on the other hand by

references to his sexuality, e.g. when father and son are showering together.

Marnus learns very early that the army and especially war is a place for man to

prove his masculinity. As far as sexuality is concerned, his father teaches him

that a man should rather find sexual fulfilment with a prostitute than

masturbate, which he regards as a sin. Although he is only a child, Marnus longs

to prove his own masculinity to his father, which is illustrated in the fishing

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 14

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

scene, a crucial moment in the boy's life. But even when Marnus is desperate and

asks for his father's help in order to catch that huge fish, his father refuses to

support him and only tells him to "stop being a crybaby" (p. 97). He does not

realize that Marnus is only a child. It is at that point that Marnus is for the

first time disappointed in his father.

His mother, on the other hand, is the moral authority in Marnus' life. It is her

as well as God's punishment he fears whenever he does anything he is not

allowed to. In those moments, her simplistic morals often come to his mind and

vex him: "if you steal you'll become a liar and if you become a liar you'll end up

being a murderer" (p. 128) or "a dirty thought is as bad as a dirty deed and

there's no such thing as a small sin or a big sin" (p. 158). Apart from being

strongly influenced by his mother's moral attitude, Marnus admires her beauty

and femininity and loves her deeply. Just as his father is the ideal man, his

mother is the ideal woman to Marnus: together his parents represent the ideal

relationship to him.

This changes during the week when the General from Chile is visiting them. As

Marnus sees a "reddish reflection in the mirror" (p. 155) in the General's room

at night, he first suspects this person to be his sister Ilse, but later realizes

that it was somebody else. It is eventually left open to the reader's

interpretation whether Marnus has recognized his mother or his father in this

"reddish reflection", for both possibilities are hinted at in the text.

Nevertheless, both possibilities have a devastating effect on Marnus' world:

either the ideal image of his mother is shattered and her morals become mere

hypocrisy, or his father, until then a symbol of masculinity for Marnus, turns

into a homosexual. When some days later Marnus witnesses his father sexually

abusing his best friend Frikkie, his whole world collapses. He is scared and

helpless since he has lost his trust not only in the persons he needs most but

also in the moral values his parents have taught him. Although at first he tries

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 15

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

to resist his father by refusing to shower with him, he later gives up his

resistance and pretends that nothing has changed ("It's a perfect day, just like

yesterday", p. 200). This is symbolically shown by the camouflage suit he puts

on: being only a child, he is unable to face the reality he has witnessed and

prefers to maintain the illusion of his ideals. The disillusionment of his ideals,

however, has led to his initiation as a man, for Marnus experiences the first

erection in his life. In a dream the night before the family leaves for their

holidays, Marnus sees himself riding on horseback together with Frikkie, who

later changes into Little-Neville. This illustrates that just as Marnus was unable

to look at Little-Neville's wounds when he visited him in hospital, he is unable to

face Frikkie's feelings about the rape and the scar it will leave for the rest of

his life.

Marnus Erasmus (1988)

It is for the living that the dead should mourn, for in life there is no escape

from history (p. 198).

The sub-plot of the novel is told from the point of view of Marnus at the age

of 25 when he is a Lieutenant in the Angolan war. Although it is written as a

separate plot, some of the events are closely interrelated to each other. Marnus

refers to "the one week in December" (p. 31) that determined his choice to join

the army and to follow in his father's footsteps. Never-theless, his ideals have

been disillusioned, for war has turned out to be a dirty and cruel business. At

least it seems to have taught him to give up the rascist attitude he had adopted

from his parents, for "bullets don't know the meaning of discrimination" (p. 42).

War has also led to a separation, maybe even to an escape from his parents. Yet

he keeps carrying his mother's letter, which gives him comfort when he is most

desperate. In his thoughts, he repeatedly refers to his father, whose authority

seems to be diminished since he is far away and unable to help his son.

Applets: A Resource Pack for Mark Behr, The Smell of Apples 16

Fachseminar Englisch 03, Studienseminar S II Paderborn - February, 1999

When Marnus and his platoon are attacked, he flees from the enemy as well as

from his own troops. In the end, however, there is no escape for him: although

he and his troops have almost made it to the South African border, Marnus is

wounded in another bomb attack and finally dies. Even in the last moments of his

life, when he dies in the arms of his coloured section-leader, Marnus longs for

his father and his protection. He has learnt that there is no escape from his

past, but that it will always attack him. It is only death that is finally able to

bring back his freedom and the peace of mind which he had lost in "that one

week in December".





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