Skip to main content
Create interactive lessons using any digital content including wikis with our free sister product
. Get it on the
Pages and Files
Art of Racing in the Rain
Book of Lost Things
Chant to Soothe
Curious Incident 1
Curious Incident 2
Cutting for Stone
Devil in the White City
For the Win
Half a Life
The Help 2
In Cold Blood
Koko Be Good
Life of Pi 1
Life of Pi 2
Lost Symbol 2
Miracle of St. A's
Other Wes Moore
Pride & Prejudice
Red & Me
Thousand Splendid Suns
Thousand Splendid Suns 2
Town Called Alice
Where Men Win Glory
Year of Living Biblically
Location: FLEX Room
Tsotsi by Athol Fugard
Introductions - Name/Grade
1. Start with a whip, everyone speak quickly about how they liked the book and what they got out of it.
2. Then we could run through characters, as a whole group.
3. Next everyone will individually summarize the book in 10 words or less.
4. Then a helpful activity could be to compare/contrast characters, ask questions you’d like to ask the author, and do other discussion starters.
5. Next a passage path. One person shares a passage and their connection to the passage, and then the next person builds off of it and shares their own.
6. Then we could look at the book from another point of view. We could first discuss how the author writes the book, and then we could look at the book from another character’s point of view.
7. Finally, the channeling the author exercise could be done. The group divides into 2 mini-groups and each thinks up a question to ask the other group, who responds as the author.
Main Important Ideas
- Conscience building
- Sense of right and wrong
- Life and Death
Tsotsi woke up suddenly to a knocking on his door. Irritated he got up from his bed. He had gotten a lousy night of sleep for a reason he could not recognize. Something was bothering him, but he couldn’t recall what. He had ended his gang, saying goodbye to Boston, Die App, and Butcher. He had remembered his childhood, learning that he had once been a son to a mother that loved him dearly, before his dark and dangerous years had begun. Through all of this he even had finally felt “feeling” again, an emotion that had vanished as soon as he became a gang member. Wasn’t that enough?
He opened the door to find Miriam, the woman he had forced to feed the baby. Ah, the Baby! A sudden fear clouded Tsotsi as he failed to remember where he had last put it. Under his bed? No. Did he give it to Miriam? No, he wouldn’t do that. A flash of memory began to come to Tsotsi, and he remembered that he had hid the baby in the ruins.
He stared at Miriam, who was holding her own baby. “Please,” Miriam urged, “let me have the baby.” Miriam, despite being frightened by Tsotsi, had been trying to persuade him to give the baby a better life.
“No,” Tsotsi declared, “I already told you he is mine.”
Hesitantly, Miriam looked up at Tsotsi and murmered, “He is not actually yours.” She quickly looked down at her toes as to not challenge Tsotsi any further. With annoyance Tsotsi began to respond, but realized he was at a loss of words with how to counter what she had said. It was true. The baby was not actually his. He had stolen the baby from a woman in the middle of the night, and not realizing the full significance of caring for it, he had brought the baby back with him. Irritated at himself for allowing Miriam to finish the conversation, Tsotsi flickered with his hands for Miriam to leave. Miriam obeyed and was gone within moments.
As the day continued, Tsotsi tried to carry out his daily routine. He wandered around town, invisibly attempted to buy some baby milk, and tried to contemplate what he would do with his life now that he had ended his gang. However, that guilty feeling that he had woken up to continued to creep up on him. What was it that was so intently bothering him? He began to recall past actions to figure out what was on his mind. Pictures began to appear; he recalled taking the baby, forcing Miriam to milk the baby and how disgusted her expression had been, and letting the crippled man free instead of killing him. He then recalled this morning. Words began to dance in his head as he remembered what Miriam had said: He is not actually yours. Suddenly he realized what he had to do.
Without hesitation he began to walk to the central area of the town, where the daily bulletin stood. Once there, he began to skim the signs and advertisements. Just before he began to lose despair, he found what he was looking for. In the top left corner of the post hung a flyer searching for a lost baby. In small print it described how a man had taken it from the woman, and that if anyone saw the baby deserted anywhere, to please call her. Her phone number was
then inscribed on the flyer. Before Tsotsi even had the chance to second guess himself, he marched into the nearest bar and borrowing its phone, he dialed the number.
Tsotsi could hear the dial tone as he waited patiently for someone to pick up on the other end. Ring. Ring. Ring. And then, all of a sudden, it happened; someone picked up the phone. “Hello?” said a woman on the other end.
Tsotsi waited a few moments before he gained the confidence to respond, “Um... hello,” he murmured. “Is this the woman on the flyer missing a baby?”
There was a pause before the woman responded. Then, with a more hopeful tone to her voice she answered, “Yes. Yes, it is. Why? Have you heard anything?”
“Um...yes. Actually I... I have your baby,” Tsotsi reluctantly replied. There, he had said it. The truth was out, and all he had to do now was wait and see what would happen. It was arranged that Tsotsi would meet the woman at the same spot he had taken the baby to give it back to her. No words were said there, just the quick exchange of the baby before they would depart and never come in contact with each other ever again. The woman did not hold any charges against Tsotsi, partly out of fear of him, but mostly just grateful that her baby had returned safely. Life would continue on as it had; however, Tsotsi now realized that he would have to make a lot of changes to his lifestyle if he wanted to live up to the expectations of a decent man.
Tsotsi: Extra Chapter
Tsotsi has to spend time in jail for his crimes of murder and theft of a baby. The time that Tsotsi spends in jail changes his outlook on life, that life does have a purpose, and that the crimes he had committed in the past could have been avoided. Tsotsi starts to wonder, could his actions have made a family have to give up their child or make a child have to grow up on his or her own just like himself.
After Tsotsi returns from jail he is no longer looking for a gang to be with. He realizes that robbing and harming the innocent people in the town is just like taking from one and giving to another. He wants his mother figure back and goes to visit Miriam. At first, Miriam is afraid and isn’t very sure that Tsotsi has been reformed. Miriam asks, “Why have you come back?” Tsotsi replies, “I want to have a family, people who I can care about and will do the same for me. I am not looked at as a regular citizen anymore, I am known as a Tsotsi. I want people to know me as a reformed man. I want to make my past right.” Miriam looks into Tsotsi’s eyes and tells him, “You can live here, as long as you pull your weight. Helping take care of my child and getting a job so you can help pay for the expenses. Tsotsi accepts the circumstances and moves in.
Together, Miriam and Tsotsi develop a relationship where Tsotsi is more of a father figure for Miriam’s child. Tsotsi is hired as a body guard for one of the rich white families in the suburbs outside of town. After many days of escorting the white family wherever they go he hasn’t seen much crime in the suburbs. However when traveling outside of the town he sees many people that reflect the boy he used to be. After a few years of being the body guard for this family he grows on them, they care for him as he cares for them.
One day, traveling outside of the suburbs, Tsotsi and the white family are stopped by a group of thugs. The thugs happen to be Tsotsi’s old gang, or what was left of it. They confront Tsotsi, wondering why he has changed, and why he stopped being loyal to the gang. Tsotsi tries to tell them that there is more to life than caring about yourself. That it isn’t too late for them to change and stop harming the innocent people and doing things that will not only benefit themselves but wont harm others. They hold Tsotsi at gunpoint and tell the white family to leave. They beat Tsotsi for leaving them and drag him into an alley. Butcher puts a gun to his head and says, “You have betrayed us. How could you have shot your own man? We were a family, we cared for each other, we had your back and you had ours. But now, its all gone. You have reformed and no longer believe what we live for.” Butcher pistol whips him in the head and tells Tsotsi that if they ever see him again he will be dead. They leave Tsotsi lying in the alley and Tsotsi slowly climbs to his feet and makes his way to Miriams. When he gets there he sits down and Miriam asks, “Who did this to you?” Tsotsi replies, “I cannot tell, but I have to leave and can never return home.”
I Run - Slim Thug
The song talks about a thug running the streets, which is exactly what Tsotsi was. Tsotsi was ruthless, killing and robbing everyone he could and was plainly just a thug. “I’m still in the hood, I can’t leave the streets, It’s in my blood, I’m a thug ‘til I be deceased.”
C.R.E.A.M. - Wu-Tang Clan
This song is all about how cash rules everything in this world. If you’ve got money, you can get anything. The modern African culture is run by money, and Tsotsi’s life is ruled by the bill. “Cash Rules Everything Around Me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dolla dolla bill y’all.” It’s true that in this world, money will buy you everything.
What Goes Around - Justin Timberlake
This song is all about how ‘what goes around comes around.’ In my own words, this song relates to the golden rule. Do unto others as you want others to do unto you. Tsotsi is a thug and is horrible to his victims, then it comes back around and he is tortured mentally for his crimes and offenses. “What goes around, goes around, goes around comes all the way back around.”
Searching for a Father - Russell Brand
The song talks about how a father leaves his son hanging when he’s young. “And now, Here I am Seeking my redemption in this heathen land, Here I stand.” Tsotsi is partially driven to his thug lifestyle because of not having a father figure as a child. When his father leaves his mother is defenseless. The police come one night in a raid and take his mother away, and Tsotsi grows up as a child of the streets. He searches for his father until he eventually gives up. It’s amazing the effect that not having a father can have.
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
This song is about how a boy lost a girl, and he’s going crazy now that she’s gone. In Tsotsi, the same thing is going on, but with Tsotsi’s mother. “Tryin' to live without your love is one long sleepless night; Let me show you girl, that I know wrong from right.” Tsotsi’s first night after the loss of his mother was sleepless and full of struggle. All Tsotsi wants is his mother back, and the affect of having no parents is monumental on him.
Her name was Limpho she was pregnant at 17. She had no husband and no money. her parents left her when she got pregnant. she tried everything to get a job, but no one wants to hire a young pregnant woman. she even thought of abortion but the doctor told her she can’t because she was too thin. She was almost about to give up hope, but one day when she was at the store buying bread at the store. The minute she picked up the bread a tall man in a suit came into the store to buy some bread. His name was Rudo he was a rich man and loved helping people. When they saw each others eyes there was a spark so big that they knew each other as if they’ve known each other all there life.
They got married with in two months. Rudo’s parents never liked Limpho, because they thought she just wanted his money. One day when the mail came to there house Rudo got a letter saying Zimbabwe was going into debt and needed some help. Limpho understood what he needed to do and let him go. Rudo said he would send a letter everyday. Two months of exchanging letters have passed and one day they just stopped. When she had the baby someone told her that Rudo was shot and killed. When Limpho heard this she was devastated and there was no will. When the government took his money she found herself homeless again.
Surrounded by violence, surrounded by poverty
Where is a boy supposed to find sovereignty?
Surrounded by torment, surrounded by prejudice
An African boy is left amongst the ruble and broken glass.
Years pass life styles form
and murder are all, but scorned.
Money is scarce, people are not;
Hundreds lay withering on each block.
Yet a light shines
In his heart
That is hidden in the dark.
How will the light reach the surface again?
One woman’s loss is another man’s gain.
New life is found, An Infant lay rest
Is this man to prove he is not worthless?
In these ruins a son is raised
The man’s hard work has been proven through these long, sleepless days.
Yet a man must feed as well.
He journeys along the path into the living hell.
Tsotsi Returns sufficiently gorged
But in these ruins something has forged
Machines pound the walls endlessly
The walls surrounding his child collapse so easily!
He runs amongst the danger and Debris
He hears the baby screaming from the next room in need!
As the walls come crashing in harm
The baby is wrapped in his fathers arms.
Rotten wood and pillars come crashing down.
And under the refuse there comes a single sound.
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"