Kaffir Boy

Kaffir Boy

by

Mark Mathabane

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Like Wilfred, Helmut is a white liberal from Germany, though he is only in South Africa on a temporary work contract. Helmut forms a close friendship with Mathabane and also considers apartheid akin to Nazism, going so far as to compare it to a second Holocaust in its systematic subjugation of black people. Helmut finds South Africa’s segregation laws so horrendous that he states he could never live there, and he gleefully thwarts these rules in his relationship with Mathabane. Helmut plays tennis with Mathabane on whites-only courts and tries to dine with him in whites-only restaurants, picking fights with managers whenever they refuse service. Despite his impish nature, Helmut offers Mathabane and his family whatever help he can give, even if it means risking his life.

Helmut Quotes in Kaffir Boy

The Kaffir Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Helmut or refer to Helmut. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Touchstone edition of Kaffir Boy published in 1986.
Chapter 44 Quotes

“You know […] this whole thing reminds me of what Hitler did to my country. His madness left us Germans with a feeling of guilt and shame that can never go away. The very same forces of racial superiority of that idiot and madman I see at work right here. There could yet be another Holocaust in the world.”

Related Characters: Helmut (speaker), Johannes Mark Mathabane
Page Number: 279
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Kaffir Boy LitChart as a printable PDF.
Kaffir Boy PDF

Helmut Character Timeline in Kaffir Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Helmut appears in Kaffir Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 44
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
...so Mathabane stops going to school again. Through Wilfred, he meets another German man named Helmut who asks if Mathabane will play tennis with him, even though Helmut is not very... (full context)
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Personal Prejudice Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
As other black people see Mathabane spending time with Helmut, they again call him a “traitor to the struggle” and an “Uncle Tom.” Mathabane feels... (full context)
Chapter 49
Apartheid’s Structural Oppression Theme Icon
Tribal Identity vs. Modern Education Theme Icon
Anger, Hatred, and Violence Theme Icon
Mathabane is desperate to reach America. In 1973, Helmut advises him to enter the South African Breweries (SAB) Open, one of the biggest international... (full context)