Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chuaro Grace Zuzo's The Bully Cycle

Zuzo's The Bully Cycle explains the cycle of abuse that exists within every social structure, but is especially pronounced in the South African culture. Chuaro has grown up in a loving home, believing that all couples and families are happy and treat each other well. When she goes to a friend's home after school, she is shocked to see her friend's father beat her mother and yell at her for not having her food ready.

Inquisitive and disturbed, Chuaro approaches her own mother about the incident and learns about the cycle of abuse that exists in many homes in South Africa. The father is forced to call his white employer "Baas" all day and is commonly referred to as "boy," at odds with the culture of the blacks, who have gone through extensive coming of age rituals to become men and view the white men as boys, having not earned their manhood. They must even refer to white children as "Klein Baas" or "Little Boss," as an expression of respect.

The man who has been emasculated and abused all day at works, comes home and abuses his wife in order to make himself feel like a powerful man. From there, the parents yell at and abuse their children, in hopes that it will motivate them to become educated and not turn out like them. An intuitive child, Chuaro infers that the cycle goes further, having witnessed her friend abuse her pets, the dog , in turn, abuses the cat, who abuses the mouse, who frightens the family. Every part of the social structure takes out their aggressions on another part of it, fueling "The Bully Cycle."

This is an important book for children to read, teaching them that for every mean word or action, the cycle does not stop there, but continues perpetually, and that for every kind action, even as simple as a smile, there is also a chain reaction. The Bully Cycle teaches children the consequences of their actions and attitudes and helps them understand the behavior and meanness of others.