Simon splits a dinner of baked beans and bread with Roelf in the shack. He calls Roelf “Roelfie” and “Roofie,” and Roelf calls Simon “Andile.” Simon reveals that the amagintsa threatened him when he went to the shop, but Roelf insists that he isn’t afraid. Simon says Roelf knows nothing about his world and compares the amagintsa to the wild dogs of the bush.
The characters’ use of each other’s names demonstrates that names inform an individual’s understanding of their own identity as well as other people’s understanding of that individual. Simon calls Roelf by pet names to show their growing intimacy, and Roelf calls Simon the name he was born with, suggesting a new respect for Simon’s background.
Roelf asks Simon if he believes in ghosts. Simon responds emphatically in the affirmative. He claims to hear the ghosts’ sad voices at night. He responds to the ghosts with a Zulu lullaby in Xhosa that his mother used to sing to him. Roelf asks if the ghosts hear the lullaby, and Simon tells him that his song lulls the ghosts back to sleep.
The notion of ghosts grants some agency to the otherwise helpless dead, allowing them to temporarily wake from what Simon calls their “sleep”––however, their time awake is sad and mournful. Simon left his family in Hluleka, but his memory of his mother’s lullaby suggests that he loves and misses them. The fact that the song is a Xhosa translation of a Zulu lullaby also speaks to the many languages of South Africa and their rich history outside of the influence of colonialism.
Roelf asks if Simon grieves or pities the bodies he buries, but Simon only cares about being paid. He marks the graves not out of respect, but to remind himself not to dig there again. He asks why Roelf keeps pressing the issue, and Roelf is horrified that Simon could be so apathetic towards “[his] own people.” With growing discomfort, Roelf explains that standing in the graveyard has made him empathize with the people buried there and with the woman he killed. He imagines her living with her baby in a pondok in a “fucking hopeless” life, and he concludes that he would want to stand on a railway line, too. Roelf laments that even in death the woman’s suffering is not at an end, because no one wants to claim her and the only man looking can’t find her body.
The two men once again clash as Roelf’s sentimentality confronts Simon’s practicality. Roelf’s horror that Simon does not mourn“[his] own people” suggests that Roelf expects loyalty and comradery among Black South Africans, without thinking critically about what might stand in the way of that notion. After facing the pondoks and the graveyards, Roelf has finally come to empathize with Red Doek. He understands the extent of her hopelessness, and instead of cursing her, he now curses the lack of hope that led to her suicide.
Roelf no longer wants to swear at Red Doek’s body. He isn’t sure what he wants. Simon suggests that Roelf speak to the woman’s ghost. Roelf puzzles over this, ultimately resolving that he doesn’t know what to do and neither does Simon. Simon dismisses him and continues to eat his dinner.
Roelf’s intention to swear at Red Doek was misguided and unproductive, but it gave him an objective. Now that his empathy for Red Doek has overcome his anger at her, he is at a loss for how to find closure.