Concepts of Truth in ‘Nothing but the Truth’ and ‘Forgiveness’ Analytical Essay

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Nothing but the truth’ and ‘Forgiveness’, both have strong messages that are affiliated with them. The play and the filmscript both portray the historical events that took place against Apartheid in South Africa with close reference to some of the political activists who struggled against Apartheid, and yet each of them have their own themes, “truth” and “forgiveness”. The purpose of ‘Nothing but the truth’ was to show how keeping secrets from your loved ones can affect their lives. In ‘Forgiveness’ it was to show that even though you keep secrets from people to protect them, receiving amnesty is not enough and that seeking forgiveness is the best way to give one closure. In addition, the truth is not comforting someone with a lie, it hurts and is associated with acceptance. Comparing, the play and film script based on their themes, I will show how different and similar they are.

In both the play, ‘Nothing but the truth’ and the film script “Forgiveness’, the theme, ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ is shown through the characters different views of the initial purpose of the TRC and in their personal truth and reconciliation process, though they follow slightly different story lines.

In ‘Nothing but the truth’, for example, at the beginning of the play, Sipho is angry and resentful about things that happened to him in the past. He blames his brother Themba for everything that has happened to him. This is evident when we are introduced to Sipho and his soliloquy, where he says, “Damn you Typical. Just like him. Always not there to take responsibility. Even when we were kids. It was never his fault. Even when he lost my blazer, it wasn’t his fault. So said my Mother. Damn you Themba. All I wanted was a little time. Just for the two of us. There are things I wanted to talk to you about. There are questions I needed to ask. But no. Themba doesn’t arrive. He is not available”.

Thando constantly asks Sipho many questions about her uncle Themba and her mother Sindiswa, but Sipho does not answer truthfully. Instead he uses words and phrases such as; “Yeah”, “He is dead” and “Let the dead rest”. Here we as the readers get the impression there are some sort of conflict among Sipho and Themba that Sipho does not want anyone to know about. Similarly, in ‘Forgiveness’, Sannie being an instrument for revenge consequently asks Mr Coetzee about the events that happened on the day Daniel was murdered. Mr Coetzee, granted amnesty from the TRC, wanted forgiveness from the Grootboom family for what he did to their son and in contrasting voluntarily answers any questions asked by the family.

Thando, Sipho’s daughter usually describes her day, working as a translator for the TRC amnesty hearings. Thando argues and says that the “Truth does come out”, but Sipho thinks otherwise and describes the TRC as being “Pointless”.

Thando seeking answers to her questions asks about her Mother and Uncle, drives Sipho’s temper through to roof, resulting in him asking Thando a rhetorical question, “Is the Cradock case over?”, not only avoiding having to answer her questions, but making close reference to the four Anti-Apartheid activists who were killed between Cradock and Port Elizabeth by security policemen in 1985. In contrast to ‘Forgiveness’, after constantly seeking answers to their questions and being an instrument for revenge, Sannie learns the truth about how the Apartheid government found out about Daniel being an activist, because of Zuko.

Sipho, also having lost a son blames Themba for his son whom he lost due to the Apartheid era. This is evident when Thandi says, “Luvuyo worshipped Uncle Themba, and wanted to be an activist like him”. Thando and Mandisa thinks that Luvuyo died during the student uprisings. This is only one of the secrets being kept by Sipho. Similarly, the Grootboom family told their neighbours that Daniel died in a car high jacking as they did not want the people in the community to know about Daniel’s political involvement.

This is evident when Mr Coetzee asks, “Why do people in this town still think Daniel died in a car high jacking?”. This was because they were ashamed and always saw Daniel as the, “Perfect Son” quoted by Ernest. Similarly, when Thando asks Sipho, “Why did Uncle Themba go into exile?”, Sipho says,” HE LEFT THE COUNTRY” Leave it at that. Could this be the truth? Now we find ourselves wondering why Sipho would use this excuse on behalf of Themba? Could it be that Themba was also seen as the “Perfect Son?” and received favouritism? Evidence is shown when Sipho speaks about his wire bus Themba took from him and refer to when they were little and says, “My father openly favoured Themba and it hurt.”.

Sipho’s wire bus was not the only thing Themba took away from him. This is portrayed when Sipho says to Thando and Mandisa, “Themba was sleeping with my wife”, “Your father was sleeping with my wife, your mother!”. Since Sipho never saw Sindiswa (his wife) and Themba again, he never had a chance to talk about their affair. They never apologised to him. Sipho could not understand why they would betray him. In this way, Sipho were like many people who came to the TRC.

Until they could understand why other people would hurt them or what really happened. It was difficult for them to come to terms with it. Similarly, Mr Coetzee, was granted amnesty but still wanted forgiveness from the Grootboom family. However, in contrast to this statement, Sipho wanted to know their reasons why so that he could forgive them whereas Mr Coetzee never wanted forgiveness. He wanted to be punished. This is clear when Sannie says, “You never really wanted forgiveness, you want to be punished”.

Even though truth and reconciliation in “Nothing but the truth” and “Forgiveness” are present throughout the play and film script, they have differences along with their similarities. Their situations are vastly different, but they remain similar in seeking forgiveness and peace of mind.


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Concepts of Truth in ‘Nothing but the Truth’ and ‘Forgiveness’ Analytical Essay. (2020, Sep 10). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/concepts-of-truth-in-nothing-but-the-truth-and-forgiveness/

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