Welcome to Our Hillbrow

by

Phaswane Mpe

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Welcome to Our Hillbrow can help.
Hit-and-Runs Symbol Icon

In Welcome to Our Hillbrow, hit-and-run car accidents symbolize the suddenness with which life can change. There are two significant hit-and-runs in the novel: the first is at the very beginning, when a seven-year-old girl dies, and the second is in the middle, when Bohlale is killed. Obviously, nobody can prepare for a hit and run—in fact, one of these accidents happens in the middle of a jubilant celebration, and another ironically happens on the way to the hospital. And the book shows that just like a hit-and-run, life as a whole is remarkably difficult—even impossible—to anticipate. Whether it is a sudden car accident, finding a partner in bed with someone else (like Refentše does), or an unexpected AIDS diagnosis (like Refilwe’s), life can change in an instant. And, just like how no one is ever charged for these hit-and-runs, life’s difficulties don’t always have a guilty party that one can easily or obviously hold accountable. Of course, on a straightforward level, these hit-and-runs show the difficulties and dangers of living in an underfunded neighborhood like Hillbrow. But also, on a symbolic level, they signify how misfortune is hard to prepare for, as it can happen in an instant.

Hit-and-Runs Quotes in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The Welcome to Our Hillbrow quotes below all refer to the symbol of Hit-and-Runs. 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:
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
).
Chapter 1 Quotes

You would recall the child, possibly seven years old or so, who got hit by a car. Her mid-air screams still ring in your memory. When she hit the concrete pavements of Hillbrow, her screams died with her. A young man just behind you shouted:

Kill the bastard!

But the driver was already gone. The traffic cops, arriving a few minutes later, found that the seasons of arrest had already passed. Most people, after the momentary stunned silence of witnessing the sour fruits of soccer victory, resumed their singing. Shosholoza […] drowned the choking sobs of the deceased child’s mother.

Welcome to our Hillbrow! you heard one man say to his female companion, who was a seeming newcomer to this place of bustling activity.

Related Characters: Refentše
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2  Quotes

As it happened, you were spared the need for decision. Because the very next day Bohlale, on her way to visit Sammy at the hospital, was knocked over by a speeding car that jumped the red robot. It was driven by fleeing hijackers fleeing a pursuing convoy of Johannesburg Murder and Robber Squad cars[…]. Bohlale was run over because, although she had made way for the speeding cars, the hijackers had lost control of their newly appropriated vehicle. They ran into her right where she stood on the pavement. After her death, any confession seemed a needless complication.

Related Characters: Refentše , Bohlale, Sammy
Related Symbols: Hit-and-Runs
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Welcome to Our Hillbrow LitChart as a printable PDF.
Welcome to Our Hillbrow PDF

Hit-and-Runs Symbol Timeline in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The timeline below shows where the symbol Hit-and-Runs appears in Welcome to Our Hillbrow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Storytelling Theme Icon
...been rowdy and dangerous. In 1995, people celebrating the win drove so recklessly that someone hit a seven-year-old girl with a car, killing her. Nobody ever found the driver. The people... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...the night reading. The next day, Bohlale made her way to the hospital and was hit and killed by a speeding, stolen car. Refentše never did tell Sammy about the affair,... (full context)