One can also tell that Aniline prefers living in a ‘pretend’ world rather than being realistic about matters. Aniline’s superstitions play a huge role in how she lives her life and how others perceive her as a person. These superstitions limit her opportunities and play a role in Aniline having a negative perception of life. There are two very similar settings that are portrayed in the story: One being at Anilines school, which is described to be very poor – handed down uniforms, scorched quad and chicken-wire fence surrounding their school, and the other being at Anilines home which is a way out of town on her mother’s struggling farm.
I will be discussing the way in which the extract, when contextualized, helps with the understanding and discussion of Aniline as a character. In the opening paragraph of ‘Superstitions About Rats’, Aniline reveals that she prefers algebra to geometry, because in algebra there are ‘what-if’ questions. This reveals that Aniline becomes paranoid when there is only one answer, which could also suggest that Aniline prefers to have many answers in her life, rather than one set answer.
This also indicates that Aniline prefers to live in a world of make believe, where certain events determine the future, rather than facing the real world where people are responsible for their own lives and future. During lunch at school, when Aniline, Neo and Lindi meet on the grass, Aniline suggests ‘The Test’ to determine who will be prefects, and who will not. This shows Aniline’s need for her superstitions to determine her future as a scholar.
Instead of working hard and doing extra work to prove herself as responsible enough for the leadership role as a school prefect, Aniline believes that only ‘The Test’ will determine if she becomes a prefect or not. Becoming a school prefect or not has a huge impact on Aniline’s future; it would help her to better het education by being invited to attend a private girls’ school.
However, there are also other options that Aniline could investigate in order to obtain a scholarship at the private girls’ school: Aniline could have dedicated herself to her studies and could have obtained a scholarship, or she could have asked her father to pay for her studies. On page 141, Aniline is waiting for someone to pick her up at school. While she is waiting, Aniline decides to play a game where she predicted that if the next car that she saw was her mother’s, she would get the scholarship, and after that, if the car after the next was her mother’s, her mom would write to her father and ask him to pay for the private school.
We learn that Aniline’s father has the means to pay for her private school education, but instead of simply asking her mother to write to her father, she relies on oncoming cars to determine the outcomes. This shows that Aniline does not do something to try improve her circumstances. Aniline’s mother plays a large role on Aniline’s use of superstitions to determine her life. On page 142 when Aniline gets home her mother asks if her daughter is a prefect, and Aniline tells her that they have not yet heard. Her mom replies with “Well, if the ants still come after you’ve cleaned up that sugar, it’ll mean you’re getting it, OK?
This shows her use of superstitions, and the reader can only assume that these superstitions have been used throughout Aniline’s life since a young age. Another instance where Aniline’s mom makes use of superstitions to determine their future is when she asked Aniline to count all the stars that were inside the ring around the moon, and the amount of stars would symbolise the amount of days in which the rain would start. Aniline also made use of a superstition to determine of there would be rain or not, which would determine the success of her mother’s farm with planting mielies.
Aniline believed that if the chickens were quiet, there would not be rain. This shows that Aniline and her mother both rely on their superstitions for success, and when their superstitions don’t go the way they want them to, they do not try to do anything about it or make an alternative plan. On page 145, Theo slapped Aniline across the face because she dropped a bottle and the ashtray, which caused the bottle to break and Theo’s friend’s foot being cut open. After being slapped, Aniline went straight to her room; she did not confront Theo for slapping her or tell him that she feels that it was not necessary.
This relates to the extract where Mrs Coetzee tells Aniline to start saying something or doing something. On the last page, page 149, Mrs Coetzee requested to speak to Aniline. She told her that she had not been chosen to be a prefect at their school. After hearing the bad news, Aniline did not say anything in return or ask any questions regarding the matter. This shows Aniline’s acceptance that her superstitions were right and were the reason she did not get the responsibility of prefect.
In conclusion, the reader can see through Aniline’s actions throughout the story that she chooses not to say anything or do anything to improve or control her circumstances or future, she only relies on her superstitions to control her life, and does not stand up for herself or fight for her goals. Aniline is a character that does not develop during the story. The use of Aniline’s superstitions is proof that she chooses to live in a world of many possibilities and not in the real world where you determine your own destiny.