Limits of Liberalism as Expressed in Not Either an Experimental Doll

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Not Either an Experimental Doll, is a cluster of letters, narrated by Shula Marks, telling a story between a young South African girl named Lily Moya and a British woman named Mabel Palmer, who tries to help her get an education in the time period when apartheid began developing. The letters reveal many of the complications South African women faced, along with the views of white people on the restraints placed on people of different color. The limits of liberalism in mid-twentieth century South Africa are illustrated throughout this book by Mabel Palmer’s demonstration of ignorance on Lily Moya’s class and culture, her hints at racial discretion toward Lily and her background, and the constant suggestions toward the intentions Palmer describes for Lily’s future compared to the apparent systemic and structural practicalities available.
Liberalism in mid-twentieth century South Africa developed in relation to apartheid and the segregation between white and colored people. The account between Lily Moya and Mabel Palmer demonstrate early apartheid and the hardships many women and colored people faced in the time period when segregation was in development. British rule placed segregation on education, medicine, public places and many other things. The whites viewed themselves as dominant, providing inferior services to those of color. As this story and letters show, education was provided to black people because they felt it was necessary to improve their native state, yet they did not want to give a high enough education to displace the blacks culture and keep them inferior to the whites. Marks refers to J. N. le Roux in the introduction of her book to reveal the views whites had when he says, “[we] should not give the natives an...

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...f non-European descent toward European culture. The letters between Lily Moya and Dr. Mabel Palmer demonstrate the development of the hardships South African’s faced while also the opposing view of the white liberalist side. Dr. Mabel Palmer associated herself with the white liberalist even though many of her letters show the contradictions between that and the harsh European views. The limitations of liberalism placed on Mabel Palmer not only hindered her and the African schooling system, but also the growth and pursuit of knowledge Lily Moya hoped to achieve. Although both may not have been trusting in each other fully, the cultural, class, race, intentional, practical, structural, and systemic limitations on the liberalism in place had a definite impact on their relationship as a whole and clearly demonstrates the kind of growth happening during this time period.

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