The totalitarian ideology of apartheid proposed an absolute binarism in terms primarily of race, but also in terms of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. However, novels such as Mark Behr's The Smell of Apples reveal the taboo, interstitial ground which belies the absolute divides of binarism. Examples of the interstitial in the text include representations of adolescence, bisexuality, and "colored" (mixed-race) identity. The bisexual character embodies deep-rooted cultural anxieties. I employ the notion of the double agent, and explore the implications of techniques used by Behr to expose from within the horrors of the interlinked systems of racial oppression, gender oppression, sexual violence, family violence, fascism, and religious bigotry. These systems are shown to dehumanize both victims and perpetrators. I argue that Behr's representation of the bisexual Afrikaner patriarch reveals the fissures within apartheid's "Eden," the inevitability of its demise, and more hopeful means of reading the future of South Africa, through the lenses of hybridity, the feminine, and the resilience of the natural world.


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pp. 70-86
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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