The train arrives at Barberton station late at night. Hennie Venter says farewell to Peekay and promises to tell Hoppie that Peekay "behaved like a proper Boer, a real white man." Peekay does not recognize anyone on the platform and so he sits silently crying, longing for his nanny to arrive and sweep him up. Then he notices a lady approaching. She calls him her "darling" and holds her against her bony body. Peekay realizes that it is his mother. When Peekay asks her where his nanny is, she simply says that he is too old for a nanny and hurries him out to a car where a certain Pastor Mulvery is waiting to take them home to Granpa. Peekay's mother and Pastor Mulvery spend the car ride home praising the Lord's precious name.
Peekay's mother intimates that he must become a born-again Christian at the Apostolic Faith Mission, and Pastor Mulvery says they are on their way to meeting the Lord. Peekay asks if they can meet the Lord the following day--he is too exhausted that night. They both laugh. Peekay longs for the continuation of his past life on the farm. He discovers, fortunately, that the new house has exactly the same furniture as the farmhouse. He surveys the scene: the grandfather clock, the stuffed Kudu head, the painting of the Rourke's Drift massacre, the zebra skin. Peekay's Granpa enters the room and Peekay notices that he remains unchanged too. Only the kettle in the kitchen looks "new and temporary." Peekay resolves to question his Granpa about nanny's whereabouts the following day. In the dawn he explores the back garden, which he finds full of rosebushes--he observes that "the garden looked like the sort of tunnel Alice might well have found in Wonderland." Beyond the fences surrounding the garden, Peekay notices plants of a wilder nature-quince, guava, orange, lemon, avocado, poinsettia, and aloe. He decides to explore and, before he realizes, he has climbed high up the hill. Compared to the African bush, the rose garden looks "tizzy and sentimental as a painting on a chocolate box." He surveys the town of Barberton from above, and then joins his Granpa in the rose garden. When he asks where his nanny is, his Granpa slowly puffs on his pipe and tells Peekay a cryptic story about his grandmother, for whom he says Africa was too severe. Then he tells Peekay to ask his mother about nanny. Returning to the house, Peekay is reunited with the twin kitchen maids Dum and Dee, who tell him that Nanny is still alive. They also explain to Peekay that his mother has become a seamstress. When Peekay finally confronts his mother about Nanny, his mother tells him that she returned to Zululand because she refused to remove her "heathen charms and amulets." Peekay shouts that the Lord is a "shithead" and runs through the "Alice in Wonderland tunnels" until he reaches the hill. The eggs of the loneliness birds are crushed into powder inside him and, in a moment, he grows up.
Chapter Eight contrasts the preceding two chapters (which cover Peekay's temporary adventures on the train home) by introducing Peekay and the reader to his new permanent place, Barberton. He has to deal with the prospect of a life with his returned mother and her religious fanaticism. He desperately searches for continuity and finds that his Granpa, Dum, and Dee are his only constants. While Peekay's experiences keep shifting from one backdrop to another, his method of narration is not disrupted, but is conventional and linear. Occasionally, he reminisces about past events, but generally he moves forward chronologically.
You may ask how a six-year-old could think like this. I can only answer that one did.
The reader finds continuity in the story itself through the recurring motif of the loneliness birds, whose eggs transform to dust at the conclusion of Chapter Eight. This shift is significant, and Peekay observes that, suddenly, he has grown up. He ends the chapter by addressing the reader directly. He specifically addresses the reader's skepticism. It may seem ironic that at the same moment that Peekay announces his burst into the adult world, he confronts the reader's adult rationality. However, as the novel unfolds, it will become apparent that Peekay possesses a special manner of combining adult logic and rationality with a childlike appreciation for the magic and mystery of the world. The literary allusions to Lewis Carroll's novel Alice in Wonderland highlight this belief in magic. It is no accident that the names of the kitchen maids are "Dum" and "Dee," reminiscent of the Carroll's characters Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Peekay presumably provided these nicknames for them in his youth). Not only does Peekay profess to grow up in this chapter, but for the first time he truly begins to grapple with the concept of "Africa" and his place in it. With his simile comparing his Granpa's rose garden to a chocolate box picture, Peekay consigns the garden to symbolic status-he sees the cultivated garden as a symbol of Englishness. The epithets he uses to describe the garden- "tizzy" and "sentimental"-suggest that he wishes to repudiate this part of his identity and allow himself to be captivated by the wild, untamed African land.
Take a Study Break!