Literary Analysis Paper (Film)


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Literary Analysis Paper (Film)

It is very hard to see someone completely change to become an entirely new person. However, this happens in the spiritual world most often, and it only needs someone to catalyze the process. The process of changing from a dangerous person to a good person in the end is what is seen in the movie ‘Tsotsi’. Despite being a heartless killer, Tsotsi is observed to have some compassion and humanity remaining in him. One can say that the film is about an emotional power that is very deep, deeper than anyone would have thought. Several things interest the viewer in the movie, but the most interesting is about the humanity left in Tsotsi’s heart in addition to the change that he undergoes. These are clearly reflected in several ways throughout the movie. Despite being a killer and a very ruthless person, there were things that he could not bring himself to do.

The film involves a main character, who is a young man aged nineteen years, and who lives in the streets with his friends (IMDb, par 2). The boy is not an orphan, and the reason for him living in the streets is because he ran away from home from his abusive father. Life in the streets is of course not comfortable, and he has to do all he can to survive. As a result, he forms a gang and becomes its leader. The gang commits all sorts of crimes, just in order to be able to feed themselves. They are ruthless and brutal, and in some cases end up killing their victims in the process of making a living.

Tsotsi being the leader in one case is seen telling the others that they had to work. Obviously, this meant that they had to commit another crime. One instance where the gang’s brutality is seen is when they stab a man in a train and steal from him, leaving him dead without anyone noticing. In another case, Tsotsi kills one of his friends called butcher while they are on one of their missions. Several other cases in the movie show the brutality that Tsotsi and his gang had (SpringfieldSpringfield).

However, something different is observed in one ordeal, something that most viewers did not expect to happen. After shooting a woman and stealing her car, Tsotsi realizes that there was a baby in the backseat. Despite being a murderer, he cannot bring himself to kill this defenseless kid. It was not his intention to kidnap the child, but now that everything has happened that way, he has no choice. The child looks at him with eyes showing that it trusted him to take care of it, and it had much need than he did. As a gang, the viewers expected that he would leave the baby at a church gate, or even an orphanage if not killing it, but that does not happen. He instead takes the child to his shack and tries to take care of it (IMDb, par 3-5). Maybe the reason for feeling the pity for the baby is because of what he had to go through himself as a child. Additionally, we can see that there is some humanity left in him, like taking the baby to his house. It is the last thing viewers expected him to do.

At this point, violence is slowly reducing in the film as fewer cases of brutality are observed. On the other hand, Tsotsi is also changing especially in terms of behavior. He changes the baby’s diapers and feeds it. He also carries it everywhere he goes, but finally becomes desperate. As he watches the woman he forced to feed the baby feed him, his feelings are awakened, and he feels grief combined with hurt. He is even heard telling the woman that he will go back to pick the baby, and that the woman should remember the child is his own. He does not become a good man but stops being active in his evil ways as much time is taken up caring for the baby (Ebert, par 6).. It is because he kills his friend later on after they went to raid the parents of the child at their home. How the story develops and how Tsotsi changes bring about the theme of change in the story. This is observed after he steals a car that had a baby boy in it. At this point, one can think they know how the future of Tsotsi would be like because, in most cases, a person’s goodwill triumphs over all.  After the incident, it is observed that he changes but slowly. He is confused over what to do, but ends up doing the good thing. As the movie end, he is seen returning the child to its parents.

Another case that the humanity left in Tsotsi’s heart is revealed is when he confronts a crippled man and wants to steal from him. However, after learning how the man became disabled, and after the man tells him how he lost his dog, he sympathizes with him. He decides not to take the man’s money. It is evident that something in him had changed, but he does not seem to realize it. Finally, he decides to return the baby to its real parents. On another occasion, he goes to the child’s real home to steal some items belonging to the baby. This indicates that he was  willing to take care of the child. Therefore, one can say that living with the child for that short time had changed the way he thought about things. As observed, he had changed a lot over time. The child had made him be kind, caring, and decency was finally coming to his life (NYTimes, par 4).

The film is made from the book ‘Tsotsi’ written by Athol Fugard (Groveatlantic, par 1). However, some of the scenes in the book were changed in the film, but the story remained intact. The setting of the book was still in South Africa, in the slums of Soweto. The author of the book must have been a resident of the slum, as he knew very well the activities that went on in the slum. Life in the slums was hard, with thugs running everywhere. All that people cared for was surviving and nothing else. He wrote the book in 1961 but abandoned it, and was later retrieved by research students in the 1970s (Griffin, par 3). Many beliefs could have surrounded the writing of the book. One can say that after seeing the way life was hard in the slums, many children opted for street life. On the other hand, it seems that the Soweto gangs were disturbing the residents a lot, and life was not safe there. Maybe the author had witnessed occasions that led him to think of writing the book.

Additionally, there seem to be some beliefs that the author had. This is evident in the way the story develops from the beginning to the end. There is one thing that the author seems to be leading to, and that is the change that takes place in Tsotsi’s life. The author appears to believe in change, and that even bad people can change and become good. He shows this by reflecting the life of Tsotsi. However, the original audience does not appear to be specific. One can say that the story was intended for the bad people, especially the gangs that robbed and killed people mercilessly in the streets. The book was meant to show them that there was some goodness left in them, and they could change and become good in the end. Change is as good as a rest, and, therefore, important in a person’s life. Some circumstances in life sometimes make people change for the better, as seen in Tsotsi.


Ebert, Roger. ‘Tsotsi Movie Review & Film Summary (2006) | Roger Ebert’. N.p., 2006. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.


Griffin.M,. ‘Tsotsi – Book Reviews – Books – Entertainment – Theage.Com.Au’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

<,. ‘Tsotsi By Athol Fugard’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.


IMDb,. ‘Tsotsi (2005) – Synopsis’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

<>,. ‘Tsotsi – Review – Movies – New York Times’. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.


Springfield! Springfield!,. ‘Tsotsi (2005) Movie Script | SS’. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.



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