Summary and Analysis of Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams

by Kev

Brief Summary of the Novel

The novel is about a man by name Xuma. Who went to stay in Johannesburg and work in the mine the book shows the maltreatment, the suffering of the blacks in South Africa. How they were treated. They were not allowed to be free. The white men had their own house, their own early places, they own schools and even were always at the top but the blacks were left with nothing. They depend on the little thing they can make out to survive.

Peter Abrahams used the mine to show a defining example. A place of suffering,the blacks were marginalized, they do the work and the white people take the profit. Some of the boys were detained there but those that name on their own were not treated as slaves as the other we also saw how the things she white men, to speak like them, live in big houses like them and to things like them. She even has to leave Xuma because of what she wanted.

Xuma was employed the mine boy and was made the leaders of the boys because of his hard work. He worked for the red one. He were also showed the woman by name Leah, who sold in the hides of the policemen by getting one of the policemen to collect bribe from her and tell her their movements. She kept on moving that way until she was arrested at last. We also saw the life and daddy and how it ended. We were made to understand by ma plane and Leah that daddy had been such a great and wise man and they respected him to the core.


The chronological arrangement of the novel first presented to us the people of Kaloy camp and uredredorp in Johannesburg in South Africa. How the people of Malay camp lived their lives and the arrival of Xuma to the place. He met Leah who offered to help and harbour him till he gets his own apartment. Xuma lived there and gradually he learnt how the people lived their lives. He began to enjoy the city. He fell in love with Eliza whom was described as liking the things of the people of Malay camp was describe as a people that a good communal life and they were happy although they were molested and maltreated by the white men.

Towards the ending of the novel, the boy in the mine refused working again after the death of Johannes. They said that the white men must make the place better before they continue their work. When the white men refused, they were all arrested and Xuma being their head ran away. The red one also supported them (the boys). Xuma almost lost his senses because life was unfair for him after Eliza left him and ran away.


The novel was set in South Africa, Johannesburg Malay camp in Vredrdorp to be precise. This was after the colonial rules.

Diction / Language

The language used in the novel is simple and moderate to understand.

Point Of View

The point of view used is the omniscient point of view.

Mood / Tone / Atmosphere

The mood of the writer was that of anger and in some parts love. The atmosphere created was that of Vengeance and anger. The anger in the eyes and minds of the black over the whites.


  1. Theme of marginalization
  2. Theme of suffering
  3. Theme of love
  4. Theme of unending quest or want.

Theme of Marginalization

The main theme of this novel, is that of marginalization of the black by the whites. We saw the discrimination, how the blacks lived their lives and how the whites lived there. The house of the whites, their schools, their points, their places of rest and every other thing was very difficult from that of the black. The blacks have to squeeze themselves in a compacted place just to eat. Flies buzz around them and some even sit on top of each other.

Leah sold with caution, wherever she was told that the policemen are coming she won’t sell for fear she would be arrested the boys in the mine were made to do much work and they were paid cess

Theme of Suffering and Poverty

This is seen in the life of the mine boys. How they suffered there without the white men minding. How Johannes died and they were forced to work. The suffering of the people who came to eat at Leah’s place and others.

Theme of Love

This is seen in the life of Xuma and Eliza. Xuma loved Eliza so much and Eliza also loved him but because she wanted the things of the white men could not stay, also we saw love in the life of Ma plane and Leah over dady during his death hour. Leah cried bitterly and laid his head on her lap the whole day. There was love in the life of Maisy. Maisy loved Xuma so much but could not have him because he loved Eliza

Theme of Unending Quest

It is seen in the life of Eliza, she so much desired the things of the white men and it kept disturbing her. She wanted their school, to speak like them and also go to places with them which he knows is very difficult to achieve.

Characters and Characterization

The characterization of the novel was a kind of expository one. The character of the novel was exposed through their actions and behaviours. Xuma’s character was exposed same with Leah, Eliza and Maisy.


  • Xuma
  • Leah
  • Eliza
  • Maisy
  • The red one

Xuma: he is the main character, the protagonist of the novel. He came to Malay camp in order to work in the mine. He lost his mother. He has only his father and siblings. When he arrived, he was told not to work in the mine by Leah but he refused. Leah harboured him. When he got to the mine, he was made the head mine boy. He directed the affairs of the boys and even the red one respected his opinion. He fell in love with Eliza and loved him so much but because Eliza wanted the things of the whites, she left him. He later stood for the boys in the mine after the death by Johannes

Leah: she is described as a strong woman, very brave. She fought like a lion on one occasion, she challenged the two people, the thin and the fat people fighting so a fight. She harboured Xuma and sells drinks she pays policeman to give her seed back on the arrival of the policemen. She loved Daddy so much and it was shown when he died, how he carried him on her laps. She was later arrested towards the end of the novel at Malay camp when she was caught selling in her shop.

Eliza: Eliza is a teacher and also frequents the shop of Leah and helps her in the work. She fell in love with Xuma and wished she would continue loving him. She wanted so much the things of which men and at last left Xuma and ran away.

Maisy: she works for Leah and she was described as a very lovable and easy going person. She always had way of making people laugh. On several occasion, she had taken Xuma out and had made him happy fact that xuma loved someone else Eliza, she could not have him. Xuma promised her towards the end of the novel that he would come back for her no more Eliza and they will live in peace and harmony. She accepted to want for him.

The Red One: Xuma worked for the red one and he was kind to him. He made him the head of the other boys and did what he said. Towards the end of the novel, he supported the boys and stood by them betray the white men. He was taken to the police station because of that.

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