The Train Driver


Athol Fugard

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Loaves of Bread Symbol Analysis

Loaves of Bread Symbol Icon

During Roelf’s stay in Simon’s shack, the two men share multiple loaves of bread, which represent their growing connection and the basic human experiences that supersede racial barriers. The recurring instances of splitting a loaf of bread call to mind the notion of “breaking bread,” an idiom that describes how people can establish a meaningful connection over a meal. In The Train Driver, Simon literally “breaks” his bread to share with Roelf, and he splits the loaf exactly in half so he and Roelf can share it equally. This act deconstructs some of the societal hierarchies each man occupies, positioning them instead as equals. The last time Roelf and Simon share bread, they sweeten it with apricot jam, which prompts both characters to share their favorite sweeteners from childhood: Roelf liked name-brand syrup, while Simon holds fond memories of gathering wild honey with his father. Their lives have been differently shaped by race and class, but at their core both men are just that––men. They share the same human need for nourishment and the enjoyment of sweets, even if their access to those things is dictated by the presence or absence of privilege. The Train Driver makes clear that racism is a huge, infrastructural problem that cannot be fixed by individual moments of connection. However, those connections are still important, and moments such as sharing bread speak to the fundamental humanness of all people, which racism seeks to deny.

Loaves of Bread Quotes in The Train Driver

The The Train Driver quotes below all refer to the symbol of Loaves of Bread. 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:
Race and Empathy Theme Icon
Scene 6 Quotes

SIMON: Roofie! There is bread and apricot jam….A little sweetness is good.

ROELF: The best is golden syrup on fresh white bread when it is still nice and warm. You ever had that?

SIMON: Never.

ROELF: You must try it some time. Lyle's Golden Syrup. When I was a little boy and we didn't have jam or syrup my ma used to sprinkle white sugar on my bread.

SIMON: When I was young there by Hluleka, me and my father, we used to look for wild honey in the bush. It’s also nice.

Related Characters: Simon Hanabe (speaker), Roelf Visagie (speaker)
Related Symbols: Loaves of Bread
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:
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Loaves of Bread Symbol Timeline in The Train Driver

The timeline below shows where the symbol Loaves of Bread appears in The Train Driver. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 4
Race and Empathy Theme Icon
Names Theme Icon
Simon splits a dinner of baked beans and bread with Roelf in the shack. He calls Roelf “Roelfie” and “Roofie,” and Roelf calls Simon... (full context)
Scene 6
Race and Empathy Theme Icon
Roelf is quiet as Simon splits a loaf of bread between them and spreads apricot jam across it. Roelf recalls the brand-name honey he used... (full context)