Fiela’s Child


Dalene Matthee

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Fiela’s Child: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

After catching Benjamin, Elias sets Benjamin and Nina to work on making wooden beams. A few days later, he’s pleased by their progress. When Elias caught Benjamin the other day, he made Benjamin say that Lukas was his name and that Elias and the others were his family. Barta was horrified when they got back and she saw that Elias made Benjamin walk close to the ox and sometimes whipped him, supposedly by mistake.
Elias’s supposed confusion between Benjamin and the ox as he whips both of them indiscriminately shows just how much he fails to recognize the humanity of his children. Barta’s horror shows that while she doesn’t dare oppose the magistrate or her husband, she nevertheless questions whether what she’s doing is truly the right thing.
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Benjamin dedicates himself to his work so that Elias will leave him alone. More than 20 days go by, and time passes slowly. Nina is only allowed to go out of the house with a woman supervising her. One day she manages to go out to play in the Forest anyway. When Nina gets back, Elias beats her, then he grabs her by the hair and uses a knife to chop it off.
Elias’s choice to chop off Nina’s hair is yet another instance of him using violence to control people. This show of force has special significance because it seems to relate to his frustration that Nina wasn’t born a boy (since his culture associates short hair with masculinity).
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