Essay on The Restless Supermarket By Ivan Vladislavic And Nineteen Cents

Essay on The Restless Supermarket By Ivan Vladislavic And Nineteen Cents

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Rating: Strong Essays

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Often in post-colonial South African literature the traumas of the past come to surface in the present. This dynamic between the past and the present not only demonstrates the magnitude of the past, but also shapes the possibilities of the future. These moments are often captured through an explosive, apocalyptic lens which is reflective of death and the violent trauma of the past. The Restless Supermarket by Ivan Vladislavic and Thirteen Cents by K. Sello Duiker showcase these destructive moments in which the past emerges into the present in order for foundational change to occur. Ultimately, these moments of transition from the destruction and violence of the past toward the newness and possibility of the future are not limited to the physical and societal space, but extend toward the development of the characters as well.
In the The Restless Supermarket, Vladislavic explores the embedded traumas of the past and importance of acknowledging these pains through a fictional story within the novel. The novel’s protagonist Tearle, an older South African man who is obsessed with proof reading as well as the restoration of social order, writes a fictional story titled “The Proofreader’s Derby”, which allows him to explore his anxieties around change, order, and perfection through an abstract medium. In Tearle’s story, the world around the protagonist, Fluxman, combusts, “The entire space was seething, alive with an indiscriminate, indefatigable jumble of tins, jars, bottles, packets, boxes…Each element remained vividly itself for as long as they focused on it, and then it dissolved back into the irreducible compound as soon as they realized their attention”(Vladislavic, 220). This quote speaks to the manner of destruction whe...


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... and the recognition it craves, but also magnifies transitional moments of growth experienced by characters. In Thirteen Cents, the destructive moment of chaos illustrates the death of the past and portrays the coming of age of Azure into a world where societal discriminations are re-imagined. “The Proofreaders Derby” contains another explosive moment in which the past is physically manifested, further illuminating the space which the past occupies. Tearle’s fictional story represents his exploration of the past and present, and later on in The Restless Supermarket Tearle undergoes personal growth by deviating from his past routines. Ultimately, both Azure and Tearle are figures which represent newness and their personal developments extend these moments of transition from the past toward the present toward a re-envisioned future teeming with new possibilities.

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