Postcolonial Literatures Unit 3 The Collector of Treasures

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Postcolonial Literatures Unit 3 The Collector of Treasures

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The Collector of Treasures





1. Who wrote ‘The Collector of Treasures’?

Ans: Bessie Head wrote ‘The Collector of Treasures’.

2. When was the treasure collector published? 

Ans: It was published in the year 1977.

3. Who is Dikeledi Mokipi?

Ans: Dikeledi Mokipi is the housewife and protagonist of the short story.She murders her husband.

4. Who is Garesego?

Ans: Garesego is Dikeledi’s husband.

5. Who is Paul Theoblo?

Ans: Paul Theoblo is Dikeledi’s neighbour.

6. Who is Kenalepe? 

Ans: Kenalepe is Paul’s wife.

7. Who is Kebonye?

Ans: Kebonye is Dikeledi’s friend in prison.

8. What is the contrast between Dikeledi and Kebonye? 

Ans: Both are husband killers. Dikeledi looked more like a skeleton than a human being and Kebonye looked like a full, plump figure.

9. What is the setting of Bessie Head’s stories in the collector of treasures?

Ans: Fleeing apartheid South Africa, she moved to Bechuanaland (on the cusp of becoming Botswana) in 1964, ending up in Serowe, a town on the eastern edge of the Kalahari Desert.

10. Why was Bessie Head, the author, rejected socially? 

Ans: Bessie Head, the author, rejected socially she was not “African” enough for acceptance in the colored family and was “insufficiently white” for the Afrikaner family.

11. What jobs did Bessie Head have?

Ans: She was a school teacher, journalist, and a farmer.

12. Head’s fiction is particularly sensitive to ……..

Ans: Racial stereotypes, women’s oppression and family issues.

13. What does the statement “always found gold amidst the ash” (58) mean?

Ans: She found love as treasure despite destruction in her life. 

14. Dikeledi Mokopi is in prison because she………..

Ans: Killed her husband.

15. “The torchlight struck the side of her face like an agonizing blow” (54) is an example of ………….

Ans: A simile.

16. What is the contrast between Dikeledi and Kebonye?

Ans: Dikeledi looked more like a skeleton than a human being and Kebonye looked like a full, plump figure.

17. Why are the women impressed with Dikeledi? 

Ans: By mid-morning, she had invented a pattern and created the front part of a jersey (sweater).

18. “I managed well enough to feed those mouths” (57) is vivid imagery explaining how she…….…..

Ans: She was able to feed her children.

19. Kebonye killed her husband because he 

Ans: He was raping school girls that he was supposed to protect.

20. What was the catalyst (tension) that caused Garesego, the husband, to return?

Ans: His obscene thought processes after the town started gossiping. 

21. Why does Dikeledi have a flushed, proud and pleased expression?

Ans: Banabothe, her son, is studying for his exams.

22. What is the description, “Then this unpleasant something turned up at his office one day” referencing?

Ans: The abused wife.

23. What was Garesego, the husband, insinuating when he said “Why don’t you ask Paul Thebolo for the money”?

Ans: She is now the neighbour’s mistress and he pays for everything.

24. Why was Dikeledi, who had “filled her life with treasures of kindness and love”, trying to be protected from an evil man? 

Ans: He would ruin her holy life that she had gathered from others.

25. “Garesego was completely satisfied” because he…………

Ans: He could boast with no competition from other men and he thought only of himself and no one contradicted him.

26. How did Bessie Head conclude the story so everything turned out “positively”

Ans: The children are cared for, the abusive husband is dead, and Dikeledi is the collector of love, her treasure.

27. How does Dikeledi show that she refuses to be a victim? 

Ans: She kills her abuser so that he will not kill the neighbour and opens a savings account to have money for expenses.

28. What is the physical setting of this story? 

Ans: The long-term central state prison.

29. How is “phase three” of Dikeledi’s life going to be different? 

Ans: She has found more treasures in her life.

She knows that she and her family are loved. She is a murderer.

30. What is the setting of the story? 

Ans: The setting of the story is in Botswana village.


1. What is the story mainly about?

Ans: The Collector of Treasures is a short story which is written by South African Botswanan author Bessie Head. There are thirteen short stories that revolve around the character Botswanan people who go through a number of changes. It focuses on the problems and oppression faced by women in Botswana and how it shapes their life and characters as individuals and as Africans living in Botswana.

2. What is the significance of the castration episode in Bessie Head’s “The Collector of Treasures”?

Ans: The castration scene in Bessie Head’s “The Collector of Treasures” is important because it shows that Dikeledi’s murder of Garesego was premeditated rather than an unthinking reaction. It further reveals that Garesego was asleep and could not defend himself. The graphic scene complicates the reader’s attitude toward the abused wife.

3. In “The Collector of Treasures,” how does Dikeledi murder her husband, and why?

Ans: In Bessie Amelia Emery’s story “The Collector of Treasures,” Dikeledi kills her husband by cutting off his genitals and leaving him to bleed to death. She does so to provide a better life for her children, who will now be cared for and educated by her friends, Paul and Kenalepe Thebolo.

4. Why is the main character Dikeledi referred to as a collector of treasures?

Ans: The protagonist is Dikeledi Mokopi, whose name means “tears.” Sensitive and artistic at needlework, she “collects” acts of kindness and love the treasures of the title; hence her resilience. Love irrigates a soul dessicated by hate, or by the injustices of patriarchy.

5. Why Dikeledi killed her husband?

Ans: In Bessie Amelia Emery’s story “The Collector of Treasures,” Dikeledi kills her husband by cutting off his genitals and leaving him to bleed to death. She does so to provide a better life for her children, who will now be cared for and educated by her friends, Paul and Kenalepe Thebolo. 

6. What does Kenalepe offer Dikeledi out of compassion and how does Dikeledi respond?

Ans: Kenalepe even offers to “loan” her husband to Dikeledi in order to share the joy of sexuality, which she has renounced, never having experienced sexual pleasure with Garesego. Dikeledi refuses Kenalepe’s offer, but when Kenalepe is hospitalized after a miscarriage, Dikeledi cares for her children and household.

7. What is the collector of treasures about? 

Ans: The Collector of Treasures (1977), a volume of short fiction,includes brief vignettes of traditional Botswanan village life, macabre tales of witchcraft, and passionate attacks on African male chauvinism. Head said that literature must be a reflection of daily encounters with undistinguished people.


1. Discuss the significance of the title of the short story, “The Collector of the Treasures’.

Ans: Bessie Head’s story “The Collector of Treasures” is a dramatic reflection of the oppressive attitudes of men in her culture towards the women and children they are supposed to care for and love. Head establishes this theme by contrasting the marriage of her protagonist, Dikeledi, and her husband Garesego, with the much tenderer one of their neighbours, Kenalepe and Paul Thebolo. Before she actually even introduces the Thebolos, Head observes that there are two types of men: those who have sex with their women like dogs, out of pure carnal lust; and those who really care about women as human beings.

The protagonist’s husband, Garesego, is the first type of man. He got Dikeledi pregnant three times in four years and then left her, continuing to live in the same village but assuming no responsibility for either his wife or his sons. For many years thereafter, she never approaches him for cooperation for either herself or her children, apparently regarding it as a matter of pride that she is able to feed and clothe them and pay for their primary school educations out of the small income she is able to earn sewing and knitting for others in the village.

Her neighbour Kenalepe’s husband, Paul, is completely different from Garesego. Kenalepe and Paul have a loving marriage and a wonderful sex life, which Kenalepe describes for her friend in great detail. Discovering that men like Paul exist is an eye-opening experience for Dikeledi. It shows her that there are men who do not act like sex-crazed dogs, and who respect their women. It induces her to try to approach Garesego again not for sex, but to try to convince him to pay the school fees so their oldest son can go to secondary school, which is more expensive than the primary school the youngest children attend. She only needs a small amount of money, having saved the rest herself, and knows that this would be no financial burden for him.

Garesego, on the other hand, thinks that any favour done for a woman should be done in recompense for sex. He proves this in his allegations about Paul; he assumes that if Paul has given Garesego’s wife a sack of grain (which he has, in payment for clothes Dikeledi made for his daughters) then Paul must be getting sex out of the deal as well. As for that, Garesego doesn’t care he doesn’t want Dikeledi anymore, and has no problem with Paul having her but he simply cannot conceive that there could be any kind of relationship or even a transaction between males and females that doesn’t involve some sexual component.

Consequently, when he contacts Dikeledi about the possibility of giving her money for their son’s education, he tells her he is coming back home and she should prepare a hot bath for him. Not being a total fool, Dikeledi knows what this means. After he bathes, he will want to have sex; and after he has sex, he might or might not consider giving her money. But this is not an acceptable tradeoff for Dikeledi, because she knows that Paul Thebolo would demand no such thing. Sex has nothing to do with school tuition; sex has everything to do with love, and Garesego doesn’t love Dikeledi and she doesn’t love him. But for Garesego, sex also has to do with power, and in this case having sex with Dikeledi when she needs something from him would express his power over her.

Consequently, after Garesego has had his dinner and his bath and gotten comfortably drunk, he toddles off to bed expecting Dikeledi to follow.Once he has fallen asleep, Dikeledi pulls a butcher knife out from under the bed and cuts off what she delicately calls his “special parts.” The fact that she will be convicted of manslaughter does not deter her, for she realises she cannot live this way, any longer. Paul promises to raise her children as he would his own, and Dikeledi goes on to a new stage in her life, this time in prison.

Head’s title, “The Collector of Treasures,” is tremendously ironic on the surface, for it would seem that what Dikeledi has collected in her lifetime is not treasure but heartbreak. Yet Head’s opening passages, showing how well Dikeledi has adjusted to prison life and the closeness of the women who have been placed in prison for the same crime, shows that Dikeledi really doesn’t feel her life has been that bad. She has learned much more from her hardships than Kenalepe has learned from her good fortune, and in her travels through life she has managed to earn the respect of men like Paul and women like Kebonye. 

The fact that her marriage was a disaster has actually made her strong, and she is much more centred in her sense of self than Kenalepe who has had a much easier life. As Dikeledi observes, throughout her hard life she has looked beneath the surface and collected small treasures, and these give her the strength to go on.

2. Discuss the summary of the play “The Collector of Treasures’. 

Ans: The Collector of Treasures is an anthology of short fiction by South African-Botswanan author Bessie Head. First published by Heinemann Educational Books in 1977, it contains thirteen short stories that all centre in some way on Botswanan characters who encounter significant changes-changes that shift the realities of their lives, their futures, and their fates. Much of Head’s focus is on the oppression faced by women in Botswana and how their conscripted roles shape their identities, both as individuals and as Africans. Head’s narrative voice is influenced by the rich oral storytelling traditions of her native land and informed by her progressive ideas about gender, equality, and the human experience.

The first tale, “The Deep River: A Story of Ancient Tribal Migration,” is a chronicle of the divide that separates a Talaote tribe after the death of their revered chief, Cinemapee. During his life, Cinemapee made all the important decisions: when to plant, when to plough, when to harvest. With him gone, the villagers fall into complacency, not knowing who to turn for guidance in the practical matters of day to day life. Sebembele encourages the villagers to think for themselves and eventually, somewhat ironically, draws followers of his own. In the end, he leads his faction out of Deep River and into an unknown future.

In the story “Heaven Is Not Closed,” a devoutly Christian Botswanan woman Galenthebege passes away, and the narrator reflects on Galenthebege’s life and her marriage to her husband, Ralokae Ralokae was not a Christian and wanted to marry Galenthebege according to the old ways. When Galenthebege sought advice from the church missionaries, they refused to let her marry Ralokae, and even though she placed God before anyone else in her life, the church kicked her out. She kept her faith, however, and never stopped praying. After her death, many leave the church because of the way the missionaries treated Galena Bege, and Ralokae never becomes a Christian, despite his late wife’s unshakable faith.

“The Village Saint” follows a village holy woman, Mma-Mompati, whose noble demeanour, good works, and respected position conceal a steely, cold, and often selfish nature. After she divorces her husband, Mma-Mompati loses the power she so cherishes. Without her status in the village, she begins to realise that she only did her good works as a way to further a carefully crafted façade of virtue.

In “Looking for a Rain God,” a tribal family makes a brutal sacrifice that illustrates the collision between traditional cultural practices and more evolved modern-day thinking. Mokgobja, his wife, Tiro, and their children farm the land. When a drought strikes, Mokgobja recalls an old indigenous ritual lost among subsequent centuries of Christian influence. This ritual involves the sacrificing of children as an offering to the gods, in exchange for rain. Mokgobja and his son, Ramadi. sacrifice the family’s two daughters-but it does not rain. When the villagers wonder what happened to their girls, Mokgobja and Tiro first say they died of natural causes, but when police press the issue. Tiro confesses. Mokgobja and Ramadi go to jail and are ultimately executed, their blood joining the blood of the girls and all the other long-ago human sacrifices that saturate the land.

The centrepiece of this collection is the title story. It is scathing. indictment of Botswanan men and their treatment of the women in their lives. The story revolves around the central character Dikeledi and her relationship with her husband, Garesego, which is a stark contrast to the marriage of their neighbours, Kenalepe and Paul. Garesego impregnates Dikeledi four times in the course of three years, but he does not live with his wife and children, and he offers them no support, financial or otherwise. 

In talking with Kenalepe, Dikeledi discovers that not all men behave like Garesego, that some men, Paul, for instance-are loving and devoted husbands, who live with and support their wives and children. Inspired by this newfound knowledge, Dikeledi asks Garesego to help her pay for their oldest son’s schooling. Without explicitly saying so, Garesego expects sex from Dikeledi in return for his financial contribution. He goes to her house with the goal of having sex with her, and she fully realizes that only after she gives in will he then even consider giving her the money. No longer able to live with this untenable relationship, she gets a butcher knife and severs his “special parts.” As she’s hauled off to jail, Paul vows to raise her children. Dikeledi now faces a grand paradox: She will go to prison, but she will also be free for the first time in her life.

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